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Tickford teen’s unconventional route to the top

NO karting, no worries.

That’s an underlying theme of Tickford Racing teen Rylan Gray’s ascension towards the Repco Supercars Championship.

Gray has made an immediate impression on the Dunlop Series: he debuted strongly in Super3 last November just days after his 17th birthday and was rock solid at the 2024 Super2 season-opener at Bathurst.

Gray was best of the 11 Super2 rookies and left the Mountain fourth in the overall points, wedged between teammates Brad Vaughan and Lochie Dalton.

Not bad for a kid who didn’t get going on four wheels until three years ago.

“My start in motorsport was actually in motocross when I was two years old,” Gray told V8 Sleuth.

“I did that all the way up until when I was 14 and then decided to make the switch.

“I’ve always had a thing for motorsport, even when I was young and Dad (Jeremy, ex-TCM/V8 Utes) was racing at the track, I would always pester Mum to go get a little model car or something.

“I always loved being around the racetrack and watching Dad race and I’m fortunate enough to be in it now, which is pretty cool to look back on the past couple of years and say we’ve ended up in Super2 now.”

Working with driver coach Steve Robinson of On The Pace, Gray has gathered diverse experience in the past couple of seasons to accelerate his progression.

“I went from motorbikes to Hyundai Excels… and then went to 86s, did some production car stuff and also some Aussie Cars,” said Gray.

“So I have done a fair bit of driving trying to get as much experience as I can because obviously I didn’t do the karting route.”

Rylan Gray. Pic: Supplied

An apprentice boilermaker, Gray joined the Tickford junior program at the end of 2022 and is keen to add to the Campbellfield organisation’s history of fostering talent.

“I’m hoping to one day achieve Supercars,” he said.

“I’m in a great team that have brought a lot of junior drivers up that have had a pretty good success rate in Supercars.

“I think they do a great job with their junior program of making sure you’re up to speed, you’re fit, and I think it’s good to be with a main game team as well – like we can go to Cam (Waters) or Thomas (Randle) throughout the weekend to ask any questions we want.

“It’s good to have that access when you’re trying to learn and achieve things in Supercars.”

Round 2 of the 2024 Dunlop Series will take place in May at Wanneroo Raceway.

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