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MSA Academy gathers most promising young British drivers at Silverstone

An incredible collection of the most talented young British race, rally and kart drivers attended the Porsche Performance Centre at Silverstone on Wednesday (1 February), as the Motor Sports Association brought together the entire membership of its ground-breaking MSA Academy for the first time.

Designed to help British drivers make the most of their potential and advance through the sport to achieve success on the international stage, the MSA Academy comprises the elite Team UK programme, the Advanced Apprentice in Sporting Excellence and the new-for-2012 Development Squad of Academy members. In total, more than 50 young drivers are engaged in the MSA Academy and most of them were able to join this week’s exclusive squad day.

Co-ordinating the day were Performance Director Robert Reid, MSA Coaches David Brabham, James Wozencroft, Nicky Grist, Bradley Ellis and Tom Gaymor, as well as MSA Director of Development Ben Taylor and MSA Academy co-ordinator Greg Symes. Also available to provide first-hand experience was Team UK graduate and Racing Steps-backed GP2 driver James Calado, who shared some of his experiences and outlined how the programme had helped him in his career progression.

During the event, Academy members benefitted from sessions with Reid and Brabham to explore what it takes to make it to the top of the sport, eminent Sports Psychologist Dave Collins provided a thought-provoking introduction to unlocking the potential within an athlete, while further activities encouraged the drivers to consider how to work effectively as part of a team. The event also included an introduction to the important issue of anti-doping and an overview of the MSA’s commitment to developing the sport including how the MSA Academy fits into this programme of activity. 

MSA Performance Director Robert Reid said:
“I first met with MSA Chief Executive Colin Hilton back in 2004 to get the MSA to understand the importance of developing British talent. We launched the Rally Elite programme the following year, Race Elite after that and brought those two schemes together as Team UK a couple of years ago. In the meantime, we’ve also started other initiatives further down the age range with the Advanced Apprenticeship, the Performance Master Classes and this year a new Development Squad to complete the pathway available to young drivers.

“Thanks to the efforts of all those involved, the MSA Academy is bringing to motor sport an approach to talent development that is taken for granted by most other sports. It is not simply about teaching drivers they have to be fit and hydrated, or how to deal with the media; it’s about exploring the various parameters of human performance that can have a fundamental impact on their ultimate performance as international sports people.”

MSA Director of Development and Communication, Ben Taylor, said:
“The MSA’s commitment to the development of the sport is stronger than ever, and the MSA Academy has a vital role to play in that. The value to the UK of international success and world championships is not simply measured in economic terms; it also generates interest and awareness, which encourages more people to get involved and helps to make the UK’s unique club motor sport scene even stronger.

“What we saw this week was the whole MSA Academy structure come together for the first time. It was great to see the pathway that now exists to help the best young drivers from 14 years old and of course we are very proud of what has been achieved so far. But what is more important is that the drivers themselves are seeing the benefits of what they are doing and that’s what it’s all about.” 

AASE graduate and Development Squad member Matthew Parry, 17, said:
“It was an absolutely fantastic day at the Porsche Experience Centre. Getting to know the other guys on Team UK and the AASE programme has been great; I’ve been listening to their experiences and hopefully now I can put that into my 2012 season and progress further.”

AASE student Tom Ingram, 17, said:
“Today’s been really good. It’s been about meeting up with a lot of other guys on the MSA Academy programme and getting a lot of advice from the experts on hand, so it’s been really insightful and I’ve certainly learnt a lot. It’s really good to be involved with the MSA and a huge privilege to be selected for the AASE programme.”

3 February 2012