Bursaries worth up to £10,000 are to be made available to young drivers thanks to a new initiative from British motorsport’s governing body.
The Motor Sports Association (MSA) is making the money available for all members of its Team UK national squad this year.
It says the four up-and-coming young rally and six race drivers on the programme will be eligible to apply for funding to assist with their living costs and day-to-day expenses.
Robert Reid, MSA Performance Director, said of the scheme: “In the past five years, we have seen drivers on our schemes holding down full-time jobs while trying to become professional sportsmen.
“We have looked at the Olympic funding model and feel that this could have a significant impact on the ability of our drivers to focus on their career goals.
“But in return, we are demanding increased commitment and dedication from the drivers; if they don’t shape up, we will have no qualms this year about dropping them from the scheme.”
Team UK member James Calado, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation to race in British F3 International this year, explained what the funding could mean to him: “Without doubt the biggest cause of stress in my life is about money.
“It is easy to assume that because we have to find huge budgets to run the cars, we must have plenty of spare cash for daily life. But when you are worrying about finding a tenner to put fuel in the car to go training, that is obviously going to have an adverse effect on performance.
“I can’t begin to explain just what a difference this bursary will make and it will enable me to focus even harder on success this year.”
The MSA says that the Team UK drivers will need to make a formal application for the bursary funding and detail what it will be used for, so that the MSA can assess their individual needs.
It adds that, in order to qualify for the monthly payments, drivers will be required to satisfy several criteria including carrying logos and decals, attending training events and “full engagement with the Team UK scheme and coaches”.
The Team UK drivers for 2010 are William Buller, James Calado, Alastair Fisher, Adam Gould, Martin McCormack, Alexander Sims, Will Stevens, Harry Tincknell, Oliver Webb and Dave Weston Jr.