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British-Canadian Nick Gilkes joins Hillspeed for 2022 GB3 Championship

Thursday, January 06 2022

Successful F1600 racer Nick Gilkes will make his debut in the GB3 Championship partnered by the BRDC this year after the British-Canadian teenager was confirmed as Hillspeed's first driver signing for the 2022 season.

The 16-year-old, who became the youngest ever Toyo Tires Ontario F1600 Champion last year as well as winning the Canadian F1600 Championship, will graduate to slicks and wings racing for the first time with Markham Vale-based Hillspeed in the UK's premier single-seater category. He will be backed by Contest of Speed Sim Racing League and MIR Raceline USA.

He tested one of Hillspeed's GB3 cars at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit during a two-day outing in early November and immediately gelled with the previous-generation machine. Although the learning curve in GB3 will be significant for Gilkes, team principal Richard Ollerenshaw has very high hopes and says the youngster has a great deal of potential.

Gilkes will base himself in the UK for the duration of the GB3 season, working closely with Hillspeed at the team's headquarters in Derbyshire while also managing his educational commitments remotely - the dual British-Canadian national has elite athlete status which allows him to do this.

Starting out racing when residing in Barbados during his childhood, Gilkes returned to Canada with his family and started to pursue motorsport more seriously in karting. Winning the 2016 Goodwood Kartways Novice Club title, he then added the Pfaff Kartsport Cup crown in 2018. The following year he was second in the US Grand Nationals in Indiana and in 2020 won the KartStars Canada Briggs Junior title as well as the Goodwood Kartways Junior Championship.

Graduating into cars last year, he won the Toyo Tires Ontario F1600 and Canadian F1600 crowns in a superb first season and was also 'Rookie of the Year' with 15 race wins. Travelling to the UK to take part in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy, Gilkes gained 13 positions in the latter to net a top 20 finish.

As a former nationally ranked tennis player in Canada, the teenager comes from a very sporting family. Indeed, his sister Megan competed in the all-female W Series and in 2019 she became the youngest winner in the category's brief history with victory in a non-championship race at Assen. In preparation for her racing in W Series, Megan tested with Hillspeed on a number of occasions.

The siblings' father, Brent, raced pre-1974 Formula Ford cars in the eighties before graduating into British and European Opel Lotus. Nick's paternal grandfather competed successfully in Mini Seven and Special Saloons in the 1960s and 1970s while Nick's paternal grandmother was quick in her own right in Hillclimbing and Speed Trials action in the sixties.  

Hillspeed Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: "We are absolutely delighted Nick will be racing with us in GB3 this season, he's a great young driver with a lot of potential and over the last three years Hillspeed has built an excellent relationship with the Gilkes family. Nick had a very strong first season in cars in F1600 in Canada, winning two titles and lots of races, and while the move to GB3 will be a big step we can see he clearly has the ability.

"Hillspeed has a long history of working with and developing overseas drivers, and with considerable success over the years. From drivers like Ahmad Al Harthy, who has gone on to become a multiple champion in international GT racing, to more recent successes like Sasakorn 'Cutter' Chaimongkol in BRDC British F3. We're now looking forward to helping Nick realise his potential in GB3."

Nick Gilkes said: "I am thrilled to be graduating into GB3 with Hillspeed, especially after a whirlwind season this past year. I had dreams of winning in my first season in Canadian F1600, and felt a realistic goal was to score podiums, but to win 15 races in my rookie year was way more than I initially could have hoped for. At the end of the season, I came to England for the [Formula Ford] Festival and Walter Hayes and then had the opportunity to test with Hillspeed for the first time in GB3 at Silverstone.

"The test went very well and, with help from my family as well as long term sponsor Contest of Speed Sim Racing League, and new sponsor MIR Raceline USA, we've agreed a deal to race in GB3 in 2022 and now I can't wait to get started in February with a test program. In the meantime I will be building my fitness levels, running a couple of races in the US, and doing a lot of sim work to ensure I can repay the faith that Richard and Morgan at Hillspeed, and my sponsors, have shown in me."

For more information about the GB3 Championship, visit the official website www.gb-3.net.