Reigning Toyo Tires F1600 Champion Ben Hurst is making the step up to the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship for the 2018 season after today (Monday 8 January) being confirmed as Hillspeed’s first driver signing of the New Year.
Hurst, from Oakville, Ontario, has raced Formula Ford in his native Canada for the past three years, with additional outings in the USA, and also in the legendary Formula Ford Festival in 2017 at Brands Hatch where he raced after being selected for the ‘Team Canada’ scholarship.
Now the 20-year-old is making the graduation into the ultra-competitive BRDC British F3 Championship with Hathersage-based squad Hillspeed for his first full motor racing campaign outside of North America - and the Canadian is relishing the prospect.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started with Hillspeed,” said Hurst, who is currently based in the UK in Manchester, “It was the right time to make the step up into a faster car and I have found the right series and team to make that step with. It’s an absolute privilege to be racing in the UK against such high competition and I’m very excited for the new challenge.”
Beginning his career in 2014, considerably later than his peers, the Canadian started out in karts but quickly moved into cars after attaining the required licence. Debuting in Formula Ford the following season, he finished fourth in the ‘A Class’ of the Ontario Championship and was named ‘Rookie of the Year’, ‘Best New Driver’ and was also ninth in the Ontario and Quebec Super Series.
In his second season Hurst went on to finish inside the top 10 of the championship in both the Ontario Series and the Quebec Series. He then enjoyed his best year to date in 2017 by becoming the Toyo Tires F1600 Champion and going on to be selected for the ‘Team Canada’ Scholarship.
The scholarship earned the Ontario racer an opportunity to participate in the 46th staging of the BRSCC Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in Kent. Hurst raced to an excellent sixth place in his heat, one of three such races to determine the grid for the two semi-finals. He went on to finish 11th in his semi but a strong result in the final was scuppered by an enforced retirement.
Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw has been impressed by Hurst’s speed in recent testing at the wheel of the Tatuus-Cosworth F3 car that he will race in 2018, and has high hopes for the Canadian when the season commences on Easter weekend.
“Ben is a very talented young driver and we were delighted when we were approached for him to test the F3 car,” said Ollerenshaw, “I’m very pleased to say a race deal quickly followed and we’re now very much looking forward to seeing how he gets on during his rookie F3 season next year.
“There’s a lot for Ben to learn, the F3 car is obviously a step forward from Formula Ford, but the pace and application he’s shown up to now leave us without any doubt he will be a strong competitor and a driver who will definitely make good progress in his first season of F3.”
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