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South-eastern young journalists in the fast lane after winning national competition

Thursday, June 23 2011

A pair of Berkshire teenagers are on the road to writing success, after being awarded a unique driving prize for winning MotorSport Vision's Young Motorsport Journalist of the Year competition.

12-year-old James Martin from Maidenhead and 13-year-old Benjamin Greig from Wokingham were selected as the winner of the Southeastern category winners in the contest, which was launched by MotorSport Vision to uncover the next generation of budding journalists.

The competition challenged aspiring writers to put together a 300 word report based on a video of a Formula Two race. James and Benjamins entries were chosen by a panel of MSV staff and professional journalist Robert Ladbrook from Motorsport News magazine.

As their prize, both winners were offered the opportunity to flex their journalistic muscles by reviewing MSV's YoungDrive! experience - an introductory driving lesson for 11-17 year olds in a BMW 1 Series at Brands Hatch.

James Martin said: "I enjoyed the whole experience of YoungDrive! at Brands Hatch, and I certainly feel more prepared for when I can really take to the road."

Benjamin Greig added: "Now I can annoy my parents by telling them what their driving mistakes are!"

Both reviews were published in the official event programme for the British F3 and GT Championships earlier this month, and Brands Hatch is delighted to present their articles in full below:

James Martin, 12, Maidenhead
The first thing that hit me when I entered Brands Hatch was the sound. The roar of the Formula Ford engines came from the track, and the commentator's voices boomed out around the complex.

Excited, but a little nervous, I entered the YoungDrive! briefing room. An instructor told us about the track, and a little about what we would experience in the next few hours. We were divided into groups of three, and each assigned to an instructor; then we found our car the BMW 1 Series.

My two group members and I got into the car, and our instructor drove us down to the track. He showed us the basics, like steering and changing gear. The first person got into the driver's seat and tried it for himself. As he pulled off, I sat nervously in the back, knowing that in a few minutes it would be my turn to drive.

That drive finished without incident, but now it was my turn. Petrified, I got in. I had driven before, but never in a manual car. After putting the car into neutral, I cautiously pushed down on the clutch pedal. I pressed the start button, and as the engine roared I was horribly aware of the power I was now in control of. Slowly, I released the clutch and applied some throttle. The instruction was good, and I felt certain that I was in safe hands.

I pulled away, and was confident enough to put some power down on the first straight. The instructions continued through the first corner, which I was thankful for as I wasn't entirely sure what to do. As I accelerated out of the corner, I changed up, which went quite well, although it was a little jerky. However, I got better as I went round the track, and by the time I got to the cone slalom at the end, my shift times had decreased. I manoeuvred around the cones fairly well, although I was over-steering a little. After executing a three-point turn, I went back round the track and completed the second set of cones a lot more successfully than the first.

I enjoyed the whole experience of YoungDrive! at Brands Hatch, and I certainly feel more prepared for when I can really take to the road.

Benjamin Greig, 13, Wokingham
After signing in you have a light-hearted briefing. In an informative 15 minutes, you learn the real facts about driving and the YoungDrive! experience. Two-way around the grand prix section, 40 mph speed limit with a slalom and 3-point turn at either end. Then the three most important rules: be safe, have fun and bring the BMWs back safely.