Smelt sets sights on single-seater success in British F4 with GW Motorsport

  • Smelt has impressed from the outset in testing.
  • 20-year-old has no shortage of experience ahead of his single-seater debut.
  • GW Motorsport targeting points and podiums.

21 JUNE, 2017 – Sam Smelt will contest the remainder of the 2017 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost campaign after agreeing terms on a deal to join Gary Ward’s GW Motorsport outfit.

Smelt graduated to cars earlier this season by competing in the Volkswagen Racing Cup and he now has his sights set on single-seater success.

The 20-year-old from Northampton built up an impressive karting CV prior to his tin-top debut, both in the UK and in Europe, most recently finishing seventh overall in the Rotax Max Wintercup in 2016.

“I’ve known Gary since I started karting,” explained Smelt. “He’s been wanting me to drive the British F4 car for a while so it’s great to make that happen and put this deal together.

“The fact that he has a team in British F4 was a key factor in me deciding to join the championship, along with how well the series is organised. The exposure you get from being on the TOCA package, with huge crowds and live television coverage is a big plus too.”

“I have followed Sam throughout his karting career and he’s always impressed me,” said GW Motorsport boss and team owner Gary Ward. “He always seems so at one with the car and very smooth.

“We took him to Snetterton so we could gauge his potential and within 12 laps he was on the pace.

“He absolutely loves driving the car. After the initial test he did with us he took part in the official organised F4 British Championship test at Snetterton and really impressed again.

“He’s got a great future. I think he’s a dark horse. I would like to say let’s do this year and then next year let’s go for the championship because he’s more than capable. This year the aim is for strong point scores and even podiums.”

Ward’s confidence is certainly not misplaced. At the Snetterton official organised test, Smelt wound up sixth fastest over the two days and just over half a second off the quickest time after consistently running inside the top 10 on the timesheet throughout.

It bodes well for his Ford EcoBoost-powered competitive debut with GW Motorsport, as the team is chasing its first top 10 finish having already come very close on several occasions with Jacky Liu.

“The testing at Snetterton went really well which I’m very happy about,” said Smelt. “I put in some good laps. I’m enjoying driving the car and cannot wait to go racing.

“I get on well with Jacky and everyone in the team. Jacky and I have competed in karting so we already know each other which makes things easier.”

“Sam and Jacky will be able to push and help each other,” added Ward. “He gets on well with everyone in the team and it’s going to be great to have a second car running so we can double the amount of data we have to work with.”

Smelt’s debut in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost will take place after the summer break at Snetterton on 29 July and he has refrained from setting any targets for his maiden weekend.

“I haven’t set myself any particular targets for the first few races,” he said. “I hope to be up towards the front by the end of the season. I didn’t have any expectations before my first test days and I did really well. We’ve got good speed and now we just need to see how we do in the races.”

GW Motorsport unveil Jacky Liu’s British F4 racer ahead of 2017 season

  • GW Motorsport launch Jacky Liu’s Ford EcoBoost-powered racer in Market Harborough.
  • Liu to begin pre-season testing programme at next week’s official test.
  • Team boss Gary Ward keen for another driver to join his crack squad and compete in 2017 F4 British Championship.

10 FEBRUARY, 2017 – F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford squad GW Motorsport have unveiled the British F4 racer that Jacky Liu will use to contest the UK’s most competitive junior single-seater series in 2017. The 17-year-old from Shenzhen, China pulled the covers off the stunning car, emblazoned with the colours of the flag of his homeland, at Harborough Town Football Club.

There were no shortage of people clamouring to get a glimpse of the machine, including local media and students from Brooke House College; the school that Liu attends in the picturesque town of Market Harborough.

“This is a dream come true,” said a thrilled Liu. “I have come to British F4 from China because the standard is so much higher here.

“I hadn’t seen the car before it was unveiled so I was just as excited to see it as everyone else. I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. I love this car. The design is awesome.

“I did a test before the winter testing ban when I did 150 laps at Blyton Park, but it was in the wet so I’m hoping for some dry running when I test next week.”

Said GW Motorsport boss and team owner Gary Ward: “It’s brilliant to launch our car with this fantastic livery. We’re well underway now and we will be at Brands Hatch next week for official pre-season testing.

“We’re hopeful we can do a really good job this year. We’ve got a lot to learn and we are up against the best teams with the likes of Carlin, Fortec and Arden.”

GW Motorsport are a new addition to the British F4 grid, yet both the team and in particular Ward who has had a long and illustrious racing career are no strangers to on-track success with a wealth of experience with karting, F3, Formula 3000 and F1 machinery.

Liu’s rapid rate of progression thanks to GW Motorsport’s tutelage is something which has really pleased Ward. He is keen to take another driver under his wing for the 2017 season with a second Ford EcoBoost-powered racer ready and waiting at the team’s Northamptonshire base.

“This time last year Jacky was karting and he’s come so far since then under our guidance. We’ve worked very hard and we’ve made so much progress.

“We’ve also got a few other drivers on our books who are working their way up the ranks in karting and one will hopefully make the step up to British F4 next year.

“We would welcome another driver coming on board to race in British F4 this year. We’ve got all the resources in place to achieve great results.”

Ward also heaped praise on British F4: “I really rate this championship. I love the Ford EcoBoost-powered engines and the cars themselves. They look awesome. I’ve worked with all sorts of race cars in my career, but the British F4 car is lovely to work on.

“Then there is the level of support from championship organisers RacingLine. They are always so happy to help and nothing is ever a problem.”

Brooke House College specialises in preparing students from all over the globe, taking an innovative approach to education. It supports students like Liu with their co-curricular activities while providing them with all the tools to succeed academically, giving them a bespoke learning experience which meets all their needs.

Said Brooke House College director of marketing Carolyn Blackshaw: “It’s a really proud moment for Jacky Liu and Brooke House College. Jacky has been with us for two years now. We didn’t realise just how talented he was when we first met him.

“He has proved he’s up to the challenge and the GW Motorsport team have really made it happen for Jacky. Gary started working with him pretty early on and quickly understood where his talents and strengths lie.

“What we do as a school is make sure that Jacky is still studying. He’s doing his A-Levels at the moment, but we are flexible. For example, if he has a simulator session we can adapt his academic timetable to suit his racing commitments.”

Added Brooke House College principal Mike Oliver: “I’m tremendously proud. I don’t think there is a school in the land unveiling a racing car like this. It’s all part of our sporting excellence programme and our motorsport academy is an aspect of this.

“Jacky has come up through karting and is now moving up to F4. We’re delighted for him. It’s a great success story that has seen a lot of hard work from Gary and his GW Motorsport team.”

Liu and GW Motorsport will begin their pre-season testing programme in the second official test of the year on Thursday 16 February at Brands Hatch. Liu will take to the track alongside a host of the fastest young drivers from all over the world who will use British F4 as a platform to climb the FIA single-seater pyramid to Formula 1.

The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford is still accepting registrations for the 2017 season and those looking for more information are encouraged to contact championship coordinator Eve Lake-Grange.

Images by Stu Stretton Media.

Jacky Liu to be China’s first British F4 driver and compete with new team GW Motorsport

  • 17-year-old Chinese karting ace has sights set on progressing up FIA single-seater pyramid to F1.
  • Gary Ward’s GW Motorsport eager to race in super-competitive Ford EcoBoost-powered championship.

19 OCTOBER, 2016 – Travelling 6,000 miles to compete in the UK’s leading single-seater series is certainly a statement of intent. It’s exactly what Jacky Liu from Shenzhen, China has done by signing with GW Motorsport for an assault on the 2017 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford.

Gary Ward’s GW Motorsport team will be a new addition to the British F4 grid. However, both the team and in particular Ward who has had a long and illustrious racing career are no strangers to on-track success with a wealth of experience with karting, F3, Formula 3000 and F1 machinery.

Said Ward: “The whole team is really looking forward to next season. We cannot wait to get started. I have a lot of knowledge and insight to pass onto young drivers like Jacky to help develop their skills and fulfil their career ambitions.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Jacky who I know will put his heart and soul into it, and it will be great for British F4 to have its first Chinese driver.”

17-year-old Liu who is studying A-Levels at Brooke House College in Market Harborough has already had a successful foray in F3 Monoposto. In 2016 he finished the majority of his races inside the top 10 on the back of multiple Chinese karting titles and numerous top five finishes at Senior X30 level in the UK.

Liu explained how racing in Britain has accelerated his development and is confident this will continue by becoming part of the Ford Performance family: “I have competed in a number of races in the UK and then gone back to China to find that I was able to win more easily. It became almost effortless.”

Regarding his ambitions for 2017 he added: “Of course everyone wants to win the title. That’s the goal for all drivers. I will try my best to make that happen. It takes a lot of hard work, but anything truly worthwhile is never easy.

“To be the first Chinese driver to compete in British F4 will mean a lot to me. The quality of drivers in British F4 is much higher than in China. It’s far more competitive.

“The series awards FIA Super Licence points and it is the best at preparing drivers for the next stages on the FIA single-seater pyramid which goes all the way up to F1.”

Team boss Ward’s driver coaching experience stretches back to the 1980s and he was keen to emphasise why joining the F4 British Championship is such a tantalising prospect: “Part of what makes British F4 so attractive is that it’s a level playing field for all competitors. Everyone races in identical machinery. On top of that the Ford EcoBoost-powered cars look and sound awesome. I love running the car. It’s a brilliant bit of kit.

“The racing is so close. When you see the likes of Sennan Fielding and JHR Developments competing for the title on a low budget you know that it’s possible to race at the front.

“There are so many elements which put the F4 British Championship ahead of other series; including how well it’s policed from a technical point of view, how well it’s marketed, the professionalism and approachability of Racingline who organise the championship, the MSA driver coaching and data sharing programme, as well as being on the TOCA package with a huge volume of spectators and live TV coverage.”

Liu’s arrival on the grid will take the number of nationalities who have competed in the series to 11 in just over two years.

“British F4 has established itself as the place for junior drivers from around the world to embark upon their single-seater careers,” explained championship manager David Lowe. “Having Jacky join the championship further underlines this fact. It’s incredibly exciting to have him on board and will help us gain greater exposure in Asia.

“The level of interest in next season from prospective drivers and teams has been really high. GW Motorsport’s addition to the grid is fantastic. I have known Gary Ward for many years. Wherever he goes success usually follows. It’s going to be fascinating to see his team take on the array of highly professional and super-competitive squads in our paddock.”

Images by Stu Stretton Media.