2019 British GT4 class champion Tom Canning has graduated top of the class in this year’s Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy. The 17-year-old from Somerset excelled in Aston Martin’s comprehensive year-long assessment programme, designed to fast-track talent from within a thriving AMR customer network boasting more than 60 active Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and GT4 race cars.
As part of his reward for graduating, Canning will receive career assistance and guidance from Aston Martin Racing in 2020, including a financial contribution to his race programme, fitness and simulator time as well as driver coaching.
The initiative, open to any driver between the ages of 17-25 racing an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 or GT4 in a national or international championship, attracted 23 highly promising candidates from 12 countries competing in series across three continents. They were coached on events by Aston Martin Racing Juniors Charlie Eastwood and Andrew Watson, given simulator time, technical feedback, guided track walks, media and fitness training. In addition, they were exposed to the works team at the factory and during FIA World Endurance Championship events. Then, along with their performances on track they were assessed on how they engaged with all aspects of this programme.
Canning follows in the footsteps of works FIA World Endurance Championship driver Ross Gunn who was the first driver to receive the accolade. He scored highest across all categories according to a panel of judges which included three-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner, four-time British GT Champion Jonny Adam and Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth.
“To be chosen to be a part of the Aston Martin Racing Academy was a privilege and I have definitely benefited from all of their support during 2019,” said Canning, who took this year’s British GT4 title alongside TF Sport co-driver fellow Academy class-mate Ash Hand, having won at Spa and collected three second places along the way.
“Simulator training, coaching at all of the rounds, fitness and media training have all helped me develop as a driver, enabling me to win British GT4. I am excited to become part of the AMR family and look forward to my new role and working closely with the team in 2020 and getting back in the Aston Martin Vantage. Thank you to AMR for the opportunity.”
Aston Martin Racing President David King said: “Tom is clearly a very promising talent, and this shone through in all aspects of his academy training. He approached the programme with maturity and focus and his attitude to the programme was exemplary. He was eager to learn at every opportunity and was frequently found in the engineering office at this year’s Silverstone round of the FIA World Endurance Championship! That he combined all this with a consummate campaign in the British GT Championship shows that he fully deserves the opportunity to become part of the Aston Martin Racing family.”
The Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy, which provides the first step in a multi-year journey to becoming a factory driver, will return in 2020. And, while the full scope of next year’s initiative is still to be confirmed, applications will open from 1 December 2019.
Applicants who have signed agreements for racing in an Aston Martin in 2020 are welcome to submit CVs with covering letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Image courtesy of Aston Martin Racing