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Apr 26, 2016

YOUNGEST EVER ENTRY LINES UP FOR APCS

 

Lauren Gray Motorsport has confirmed what is believed to be the youngest ever entry for the Australian Production Car Series, with their Toyota Echo to be steered by 15 year old Liam Thompson and 16 year old Ellexandra Best at Phillip Island across May 27-29.

It is believed the Thompson/Best entry will be the youngest aggregate entry for the series’ history, with a combined driver age of just 31. While a number of 16 year olds have competed in the series, they have been paired with older co-drivers, and Thompson is believed to be the first 15 year old to take the wheel in the series.

Gray said it is an exciting time for Lauren Gray Motorsport. (For more on Thompson and Best, including what they had to say, read on).

“I am very excited to welcome Liam and Ellexandra to the team and for Maddison and I to provide mentoring and guidance as they tackle the APCS in our Toyota Echo,” said Gray, who says the racers will also be supported by the highly experienced Lauren Gray Motorsport crew.

“Liam is quite young at only 15 but already has been racing over in the UK and taken in some of the great tracks over there. Ellexandra has some great karting experience under her belt and comes from a production car background with her father Darren Best racing against me when Ellexandra was young.

“For both of them this series will be a big learning curve with new tracks, new cars and a lot of faster cars around – it will be a great experience for them to learn race craft, expand their endurance racing skills and elevate their skill set so they can chase their racing goals.

Grade 10 Pimpama State Secondary College (Gold Coast, Queensland) student Thompson started out in go karting at seven years of age, before stepping up to cars at the age of 12. He has since raced in Motorkhanas, Khanacross, Hill Climbs, Dirt Sprints, Autocross, Open Sprints and Street Sprints before completing an MSA ARDS test at Wales’ Anglesey Circuit and going on to race in the UK’s Junior Saloon Cars Championship – including racing at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park, where he was awarded as JSCC driver of the round.

“All the cars I have raced are production-based cars – the JSCC is set-up for 14 to 17 year olds in a one-make series with a Citroen Saxo VTR, and the cars I use in Autocross are road-type cars – but having said that I haven’t raced in any formal production car series, so I am really looking forward to learning everything I can,” said Thompson, who thanks IWMAC, HSCCQ, John Phoenix, Dave Beecroft, Orex Competition, The Performance Center and his family for their support of his racing to date.

“Racing is really my passion – I would race anything given the chance, in any discipline, but my ultimate goal is the World Endurance Championship.

“Short-term, I hope that I can get enough sponsorship on-board this year to help me do the whole season of the APCS with Lauren Gray Motorsport, with the aim of racing in the Bathurst 6 Hour with the team next year.

“The series is the future of Australian motorsport in my opinion and is going to really grow over the next few years I think. I really like the different formats, and I am especially looking forward to the night race at Queensland Raceway.

“This is such a great program to be a part of, I am excited to be part of a tight-nit family team, and to have their wealth of experience and passion guiding me. It is really great to see them helping out young talent and especially those with a small budget.

“I am looking forward to racing with Ellexandra too, I have raced a lot of very great females over the years and it is great to be on the same team – I really can’t wait to get this year going!”

Sixteen year old Best is currently studying year 11 at Cathedral College in Wangaratta (Victoria) while also working at McDonald’s in Benalla. Like Thompson, Best’s racing started at the age of seven in go-karting, going on to compete at National, State, Open and Club level. In January of 2015 she won her first National Title - the Australian National Ladies Combined District Kart Club (Lithgow) Junior National Heavy ‘Pink Plate’. That year also hosted her beginnings in circuit racing, with racing in the BP Midland Pedders No Bull Sprint Series where she was crowned the 2015 Junior Class Sprint Series Champion, while also competing in the Victorian and Interstate Hyundai Excel Championships.

“I have been around racetracks since I was a baby,” said Best, who thanks Best Lifestyle Units, Best Leisure Industries, Burke Signs Benalla, Daisy’s Garden Service and her family for their support to meet the family’s busy motorsport schedule. While her brother Zak Best competes in the Aussie Racing Car Series, tin tops were more of interest for the fast young female.

“I recall going to the racing as a toddler all decked out in my own little racing suit and boots to watch my dad.

“I’ve seen many tracks and am excited about the possibility of driving on some new tracks with the APCS. I have also seen plenty of television coverage of the series both past and present – I especially liked the large fields and the variety of cars that competed.

“My father, Darren Best competed in the APCS until my brother and I were both were racing karts in 2010, and in 2006 he won the Class C championship in a Ford Focus. He actually raced against Lauren Gray as part of that, so I have known her since I was little – I have watched her career with interest and I am really looking forward to learning more about motorsport from the Gray Team through this opportunity while being able to compete at the national level and on the larger race tracks in Australia.

“We had actually planned to contend the Bathurst 6 Hour in an all-female team with Lauren Gray Motorsport, but unfortunately due to a lack of fellow drivers this plan was ultimately unsuccessful. I am really happy that I have this chance now to race with them throughout not only the APCS, but also hopefully in the Bathurst 6 Hour with the team in 2017.

“Through racing the APCS, I am looking forward to competing against a wide variety of cars, and learn the longer endurance format while also starting to make a name for myself in the wider motorsport community so I can progress my racing career. Long-term, I would love to race in the Porsche Carrera Cup Series, this is my ultimate goal, and I believe the APCS is a great place to start.”

For more on the APCS, please visit https://www.facebook.com/AustralianProductionCars/ or contact Iain Sherrin of Ontic Sports on 0422 449 446 or at iain@onticsports.com.au