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Tickford Autosport young driver platform launched

MOTORSPORT fans may have noticed the launch of a new Tickford Autosport social media page today, described as a pathway for future champions but otherwise shrouded in mystery.

Enter Tickford Racing Super2 team manager Kate Harrington.

“We have created it as a primary platform to showcase the Super2/Super3/whatever we go into with the younger programs but instead of it being named an academy as such, we kind of wanted something that was a little bit different,” she told V8 Sleuth.

“So that’s why we have gone with the Autosport, it’s kind of a bit classy and different whereas everyone else is calling their groups academies.

“It’s a platform for our Super2 drivers at the moment, Elly (Morrow) and Brad (Vaughan), and then obviously we have got a program at the moment with Rylan Gray that we’re running throughout the rest of the year with him to see how he progress.

“It’s a platform for the three of them that we can really pump up.

“The aim of it is to make it a little bit different to our main game page… and we’re going to have a focus on the crew aspect a lot more as well.

“We want it to be a fun environment and behind-the-scenes stuff of what it’s really about, the stuff that the fans really want to see and probably don’t get to see as often. I think it’s a bit more accessible to do that when you’re in Super2.”

Gray’s status as a Tickford junior driver had previously flown under the radar.

Tickford has a history of supporting rising talent – in fact, its current four-driver Repco Supercars Championship line-up features three Super2 champions in Cam Waters, Thomas Randle and Declan Fraser.

Gray, the son of fellow racer Jeremy, was discovered via a connection through Tickford Super2 data engineer Bayden Charlton.

Rylan Gray in the #21 Castrol entry. Pic: Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand

The 16-year-old last month clinched the rookie title in the New Zealand Toyota 86 Series, a prize that comes with a GT4 drive at the Nürburgring later this year.

Gray has also tasted victory in Aussie Racing Cars this year and is set to race in the Australian Toyota 86 category starting next week in Townsville.

Beyond that, he’ll have the chance to gain Supercar mileage courtesy of a freshly announced rule change which will see the introduction of Special Purpose Testing.

That essentially is to give 16-year-olds laps, despite being ineligible to compete until they turn 17.

“There’s been a rule change with the Super2 Series so you can now test being 16 and then he wouldn’t be eligible to race until the end of the year anyway,” said Harrington.

“So if he does go to Super2 or Super3 next year, this year would be a really good year for him to just do as much testing as he possibly can.

“We’re looking further down the track as well but at the moment nothing is locked in, we’re just going to evaluate him and get him to the best standard where we want him to be.”

Charlie Nash, the son of team co-owner Rod, is also set to feature in Tickford Autosport.

“He’s in the Excels and he is doing a really good job there. He does our Super2 training camps as well with us, so he is included in it as well,” said Harrington.

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