GREASLEY racing driver Chris Swanwick has made history by becoming the second youngest driver in the 53-year history of the British Touring Car Championship.
Swanwick, 17, capped a metoric rise through the ranks from his karting days to take part in the highest level of saloon car racing in the country, as he joined the 29-car grid at Brands Hatch last weekend.
In record breaking weather that saw the temperatures in the car rise to 46 degrees, Swanwick drove the Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 on the Saturday for only the second time in the dry, but struggled against some of his boyhood heroes and everyday numbers in the racing world including Jason Plato, Matt Neal, Tom Chilton and a whole host of others, only managing to qualify 27th.
Although he failed in his target to get in the top ten in one of the three races, Swanwick brought the car home in one piece each time, something many of the other drivers failed to do.
After finishing race one in 17th spot, Swanwick said: “It was incredible. To finish in 17th in front of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, two of the Championship top three, and starting in a much larger than normal grid, I was really pleased, although I seemed to lack straight line speed as did my team mate Rob Austin who only finished 13th.
“In the second race, starting right in the middle of the grid was a daunting experience, but I managed to hold my own after I was passed early on by the two Hondas.
“But I picked up drive through penalty for running wide at Graham Hill bend, and at this level that is effectively the end of your race.”
Starting race three at the back was always going to be a big ask, but Swanwick made steady progress and as one or two in front of him began to get tyre problems and drop out, he continued his progress through the field to finish 20th.
Team Principle Richard Austin said afterwards: “It’s a steep learning curve and Chris listened, did everything we asked of him and can walk away from his first British Touring Car Meeting with his head held high.”
“He completed all three races and to finish one of them in 17th and be in front of championship contenders speaks volumes of the lad, and then considering as a team we had problems with straight line speed and he is only 17, the future looks very good for him.”