Max Bird has made the step up to car racing as his track career continues to move up through the gears.
The 15-year-old Slindon College pupil, who lives in Chidham, took part in his first car race in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series at Snetterton in Norfolk.
Preparation for it started in February when the Bird camp purchased a 2010 Ginetta GT5, basically the same as a Ginetta Junior but with a more powerful engine, and set about converting it into a junior-spec car for Bird to race in the 2016 Ginetta Junior championship. He has used the car during 2015 to test at a number of the circuits used in the championship, while continuing to race karts, which culminated in him winning the Junior Rotax class in the prestigious TVKC karting championship.
The two-day Ginetta Winter Series event featured a qualifying session and two races on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday started wet and got wetter, but in his first qualifying session Bird set an impressive eighth-fastest time which determined the grid position for the first race.
Too much wheel-spin in his first race start dropped him from eighth to 14th on the first corner but he battled for the next five laps to finish a creditable sixth, which became his starting position for the second race.
A better start saw Bird fourth early on only for an excursion off the track on lap three to drop him to last – from where he fought back to finish 16th at the end of the race.
Sunday was dryer although the track was still damp for qualifying. Bird was running sixth quickest in qualifying when a red flag brought the session to a premature end.
Qualifying restarted with three minutes left, just enough for a single flying lap, in which Bird was baulked by a slower car – leaving him a disappointing 12th overall for the start of the first race.
A good start and close racing saw Bird move up to 11th on lap two and tenth on lap six, where he finished.
The track, now fully dry, saw him start tenth on the grid for the final race, which resulted in eighth place overall and a podium position as the leading rookie – and making him second overall in the rookie championship.
Bird will compete in the 2016 Ginetta Junior championship at all the major circuits in the UK, including Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Thruxton, Croft, Donington, Rockingham, Oulton Park and Snetterton, between April and October.
Competing alongside the British Touring Car Championship gives the junior series a very high profile with a large TV and trackside audience.
But to compete at the highest level Bird needs to attract further support and is hoping to work with local and national companies to promote them through media coverage, promotions and trackside hospitality.
He has received support from local companies, including Artec Engineering, Cars for Students and Sycamore Cars, and is delighted to announce the backing of Chichester gym and personal trainers Core Results, based in Quarry Lane.
Paul Butler of Core Results said: “We are delighted to be able to help Max in his first season to achieve his goal of becoming a professional racing driver.”
The series’ high profile presents sponsors with a unique opportunity. The Ginetta Junior series uses recognisable showroom cars racing bumper to bumper in competitive racing, which makes the sport very appealing.
You can become part of the team for as little as £1,000 and see your company promoted – or for a little more you can join the team at the track, bring guests and be more involved with the racing and even experience the thrill of racing as a passenger at a track day.
Anyone interested in supporting Bird in his journey as a professional racing driver can contact father Tim Bird on 07850 218010 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org – and you can follow Max’s progress at www.maxbird.co.uk, on Twitter @maxbird35 or on www.facebook.com/maxbirdracing