Red Bull F1's Mark Webber leads Australia's contingent of motorsport stars at the pinnacle of international four-wheel motorsport. Around him are the likes of Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Marcos Ambrose and the up-and-coming Daniel Ricciardo.
In Australia's Formula Ford series - a breeding ground for the next generation of racing heroes - this year's runner-up, Jack Le Brocq, has landed himself a seat in Ford's new EcoBoost racer and a place at the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy.
While the 19 year-old has still to secure a ride in the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, his place at the Academy points to a potential debut in a top-tier racing series in the coming years.
"I’m hoping to get my deal sorted out soon and then start to think about testing and learning the car and all the new circuits,” Le Brocq said.
The young Aussie spent last week behind the wheel of the new EcoBoost racer at Silverstone, familiarising himself with the car he hopes to punt around the nation in 2012.
"The way the chassis and the tyres work together give it a lot of grip and I like the sequential gearbox; its good experience for the categories a driver will come to further in his career," he said.
Ford's new open-wheeler is powered by a modified version of its 1.6 litre turbocharged and direct-injected EcoBoost engine, producing 121kW and 220Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a version of Ford's Powershift automatic transmission.
Reigning Formula Ford FB champ Scott Malvern praised the EcoBoost's design, describing it as worlds ahead of the older Duratec-powered car.
“The EcoBoost is definitely much easier to drive than a Duratec car, for a new kid coming in, and that is a good thing. It’s also going to make it a lot harder for the guys at the front to find the extra time, which will keep things close," Malvern said.
"The Duratec was hard to drive, so a driver really on top of his game could get an advantage, whereas the EcoBoost with its sequential ’box and superior levels of grip will make that harder. It’s definitely not lost the Formula Ford feel, though."
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