The Autosport International show, the annual pre-cursor to the 2018 motor racing season, had a very heavy South Yorkshire presence this year.
There was an impressive triple local connection to Thomas Turner receiving his Super 1 Series Karting X30 Championship trophy.
The Rotherham 16 year-old karter received his Super 1 X30 3rd-place trophy, together with a Koden helmet and Tag Heuer watch, from the Sheffield racer Oliver Rowland who finished 3rd in the 2017 Formula 2 Championship.
Rowland will be racing in the 2018 World Endurance Championship LMP1 category for the TRS Manor team, owned by John Booth who hails from Todwick, and the team’s new, built in Leeds, Ginetta G60-LT-P1 car was launched at the show!
James Taylor announced that he had signed with Richardson Racing for 2018 as this year’s Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner.
The 15-year-old from Wath-Upon-Dearne, saw off the challenge of over 60 rivals to secure the Scholarship crown back in October – which saw him awarded a fully-funded season in the highly competitive Ginetta Junior Championship series for aspiring motor racing stars of the future.
Following his success in the Scholarship, Taylor enjoyed a test with the Richardson Racing team at Rockingham Motor Speedway, prior to Christmas and has now taken the decision to join the Corby-based outfit for his debut in the series.
As part of his deal with the team, Taylor will benefit from access to a state-of-the-art simulator to aid his preparation for the ten meetings on the 2018 schedule and will work with the team’s experienced driver coach Sam Maher-Loughnan.
Following a full pre-season testing programme, Taylor will make his race debut with the team at Brands Hatch’s season-opener in April.
“I’m really happy with my decision to join Richardson Racing,” he said, “and I believe that the team will give me the best chance to develop as a driver thanks to the package they have provided.
“In my first season in the series, I want to fight for the Rookie championship, but I’m also confident that podium finishes should be within my reach.
“With that in mind, I also hope that we can challenge for a strong result in the overall standings over the course of the year”.
Team boss Gwyn Richardson was pleased to welcome Taylor, “James is obviously a very talented driver as he showed in winning the Ginetta Scholarship against some stiff competition,” he said. “He did a good job when he tested with us late last year, and we were keen to try and do a deal to bring him on-board.
“We’re delighted that he has elected to join us for his debut season in the series and are confident about his ability to deliver some strong results on track during 2018.”
Christian England, the Barnsley sportscar racer, has yet to confirm his plans for the 2018 motor racing season.
“We had another good European Le Mans LMP 3 Series season in many ways, but not as good as in 2016 where we clinched the Championship, but nevertheless did have a win in the last race of the season at Portimao.
“We were plagued by quite a few mechanical issues through last season that were out of our control, which put paid to our chances of retaining the Championship.
“But ironically, our team United Autosport’s sister car, running with the number 2 – our number last year – went on to win the 2017 ELMS LMP 3 title.
“We ran with the number 3 in 2017, and for that matter, the car running with number 3 did not have much luck in 2016 either, so it seems to be that you have to be in car 2 to win Championships: that is definitely the lucky number!
In the British LMP 3 Cup series his American co-driver was struggling to get to know the car initially, so last year, even though they began races from pole position they didn’t get many podium finishes.
“At the end of the season we managed to win a round at Snetterton – it was a tough learning curve for Andrew Evans coming to the series from the States: with him not knowing the car or the circuits, so it was a tough learning curve for him but he improved through the year and we managed a couple of good results by the end.
“I’m very much still enjoying my motor racing and still regret not staying in motorsport in one way or another, but it was taken out my hand inevitably by external ‘forces’ in 2004.
“I’m not sure what is happening this season yet, as nothing is finalised for myself, but I’m still looking to pick up a drive with United Autosports again, if we can put a deal together, but it remains to be seen yet…
“I’m grateful to still be in partnership with the Manvers-based company, Gala Performance, but there are so many pieces to put in place to get a drive in sportscar racing, it’s not just finance, it’s talent and the correct mix of ‘drivers (star) ratings’ – basically a huge jigsaw that has to fit together, rather than just one aspect alone”.
Three company directors of local motorsports equipment supplier, Gala Performance, chose the show to announce the formation of their own race team, Gala Performance Motorsport, to go endurance racing.
Manvers-based company Gala Tent, are backers of Barnsley race ace, Christian England and through his involvement with sportscar racing team, United Autosports, saw potential for a motorsport supplier division, setting up Gala Performance.
The company’s management has enjoyed watching England racing in international sportscars so much that they ended-up getting bitten by the motor racing bug.
While they thought it was “fun watching”, they decided, “it would be even better fun taking part”, so decided to go racing themselves, and went looking for a fun and value for money series, and decided on endurance racing with a Citroen C1.
Andrew Scott and Mark Thompson, both directors of Gala Tent, are teaming up with Glen Robinson, managing director of sister company, Gala Graphics, to try their luck in the C1 Racing Club endurance series, starting at Rockingham Motor Speedway, in May.
The three will be working closely with 2015 GT Cup champion, Rob Gaffney, of Amigo Motorsport in the hope some of his skills rub off on them.
Mark said: “I had always fancied having a go at endurance racing and this just seemed an opportunity too good to miss.
“Not only will we be able to take part in a sport we’ve all followed for years, but we’ll be having the same experience as many of our motorsports customers, so will get to understand even better what they need from performance ware, tools, pop-up gazebos, pit walls and other equipment”.
Jason Mace, managing director of Gala Tent, said: “Motorsports is a rapidly growing part of our business, which is the reason why we set up our dedicated motorsports business Gala Performance two years ago.
“Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and we were delighted to be one of the main sponsors of the United Autosport team that won the 2016 and 2017 European Le Mans LMP3 titles!
“We’re not expecting to achieve these kind of dizzy heights straight away with our own team, but we’re excited about this new venture and hope it will help us to enhance and innovate within our product range.”
Gala Performance is a division of local company, Gala Tent, a company with over 17 years’ experience in design, manufacture and supply of marquees and gazebos to the events industry.
Dedicated to the motorsports sector, Gala Performance provides a range of premium branded products including garage flooring, lifting equipment, pit walling and as well as pop-up awnings and gazebos manufactured by Gala Tent.