Remember the name as Nico Rosberg signs up Norfolk's latest F1 hopeful lighting up the karting world
Teenage karter Taylor Barnard's Formula One dream now has the support of former world champion, Nico Rosberg.
Teenage karter Taylor Barnard’s Formula One dream now has the support a former world champion.
The 13-year-old from Horsford is one of only two young drivers signed up by Nico Rosberg to kick-start his new Rosberg Racing academy – and the 2016 F1 drivers’ champion clearly has high hopes for Barnard’s future.
As for Barnard, he is beaming at the prospect of working under a man whose father Keke was also F1 champion, who grew up karting, took 23 F1 grand prix victories and is the only person to beat Lewis Hamilton to the F1 crown in the past four years.
“I can’t quite believe it,” beamed the youngster, who is currently competing across Europe in the OK Junior class for Kart Republic.
“I am over the moon that I have been given this opportunity by Nico to work under his advice and guidance.
“I have always given 110pc on and off the track, and knew that one day if I carried on achieving strong results, maybe something might come my way.
“But this is amazing. I really cannot wait to start this new chapter in my career.”
Taylor excelled last year, claiming two British Cadet championships and the British Open title, as well as the British Kart Grand Prix back in August.
Such success propelled Barnard into the thoughts of Kart Republic team principal Dino Chiesa, who can claim Rosberg, Hamilton, Nyck de Vries and Oliver Rowland among his past protégés.
An impressive test in Italy earned Barnard two years with Chiesa’s team – and the Norwich youngster qualified second out of a field of 85 in his opening WSK Champions Cup mission in Italy, before a fifth-placed finish out of 128 in the WSK Super Masters Series and eighth in the European Championship first round.
Cue former Mercedes star Rosberg, who drove for Chiesa during his own upbringing and believes his Rosberg Racing academy will be all the better for working closely with his former boss.
“Dino is the best in the karting world and I believe in the performance of Dino’s own Kart Republic chassis, which we will be using,” said Rosberg.
“He was my boss in all my international karting years. The most successful year was when Lewis and I were in Team MBM and Dino lead us to great successes.
“We have been friends ever since, so it is special to now join forces to support the stars of the future.”
Barnard and Italian 18-year-old Lorenzo Travisanutto are the first drivers to be signed by Rosberg.
Mother Amy added: “Nico came to the race in Italy when he launched his academy in April and he spent the day with Taylor, watched the racing and chatted with us. He was great.”
Barnard will be hoping to follow a prestigious path to Formula One via Norfolk, laid by Team Lotus and followed by the likes of Graham Hill, Martin Brundle, Ayrton Senna, Mark Webber, Johnny Herbert – and current Mercedes reserve driver, Wisbech’s George Russell.
Next up for Barnard is some action on home soil at the weekend, where round two of the European Championship takes at PFI near Grantham – the country’s largest outdoor kart track.
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