The Spyker Formula One team has added extra interest to this year's search for a professional racing driver, throwing its weight behind the So You Want To Be An F1 Driver contest, which opened on Monday.

The event, filmed for television, has been run over the last three years with support from Exchange and Mart and Shell, but has now attracted its first interest from the top flight of international motorsport.

"It is a tremendous boost for us having the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One team as part of the event," promoter Tim Matthews admitted excitedly, "It allows us access to the very professional opinions that I am sure team personnel such as chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, director of business affairs Ian Phillips and, of course, team principal Colin Kolles can give about our competitors.

During the event, some competitors will also get the chance to join the Spyker team at an F1 test session and, by invitation, to have exclusive access to the operation's Silverstone factory.

The first So You Want To Be An F1 Driver competition, staged in 2003, saw 21-year old Irish student Mark Johnson beat 39-year old JCB driver Neil Purdie in an F1 shootout at Monza. Johnson went on to race in a round of the Thoroughbred Grand Prix Championship in a Tyrrell that same weekend, winning his class and finishing seventh overall after starting from the back of the grid. Since then, he has gone on to become a full-time racing instructor, and he now competes in drifting competitions, leading the European Championship.

"As a motorsport competitor myself for over 20 years, I know just how hard it is to find the money to first break into racing," Matthews continued, "This event is designed to give the man or woman in the street the opportunity to demonstrate their ability, and have a go in a variety of racing disciplines. We want to find someone with the determination and enthusiasm to make it to the top, just like we did with Mark Johnson."

The event is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 49, male or female, and interested participants are invited to submit an entry for the competition. A one-off administration fee of ?15 is all that there is to pay, with the qualifying procedure starting with a spot of karting. Round by round, contenders will be forced to prove themselves in various areas - including fitness, driving under supervision on a circuit with an instructor, and then laps in both race saloons and a range of
single seaters from Formula Ford to Formula Three. The field will be whittled down at every stage, until the final two get a test in an F1 car. The winner will be racing towards the end of the 2007 season and, if all goes well, will receive a season in single-seaters in 2008.

More information about the event can be found on www.soworld.info or by calling 0871 222 3629.

 

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