Youngster Swann relishing step up in class after clinching Moto3 ride
Carrickfergus College student Scott Swann is currently on cloud nine, having taken delivery of a brand new NSF250R Moto3 Honda which he will campaign in this season's British Motostar Championship.
The blonde-haired 14-year-old, whose father Michael is a multiple Irish Superbike and road race champion, made his debut on the British scene in last season's KTM Junior Cup, but is now ready to make the jump to full racing machinery - and is looking forward to the challenge in the Moto3 standard class in 2017.
Speaking on the eve of his debut aboard the £14,000 Moto3 Honda at Cartagena in Spain, the happy-go-lucky Year 11 student said of his new acquisition: "I've only had one run out on it, but the weather hasn't been good at home so I can't wait to get to Spain and spend a few days getting used to it."
Last year was only Swann's second full season of tarmac racing, and despite jumping into the British Championship arena at just 13-years-old and having to learn some of British racing's most iconic circuits - namely Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch - he coped admirably.
"When I got to Silverstone for the first round last year I was really worried, but dad calmed me down and told me it was just another race circuit," said Scott, whose father Michael raced a handful of British Supercup events himself during his own career, and along with Stephen Ferguson - another accomplished local racer from Swann senior's era - they kept the excitable teenager on the straight and narrow all season.
Indeed, so much so that he was the only competitor in last season's Santander Consumer Finance KTM British Junior Cup to score points in all 20 races, including three fastest laps and five podium finishes - affording him qualification to the KTM World Final at Assen in the Netherlands.
With so much achieved, his father Michael set off on a fact-finding mission to see if he could find Scott a seat in an established British Motostar team for 2017, and while there was plenty of interest, the entry into most teams' awnings was in the region of £25,000.
"There was plenty of interest, but once I heard how much the teams were asking, I spoke to Stephen Ferguson and we thought, 'we can't do this ourselves'," explained Michael, who I spoke to at length about the options thereafter.
As he later explained, it was thanks to a feature that appeared in this very newspaper at the back end of 2016 that added much need impetus and generated a number of phone calls that eventually saw the delivery of the Moto3 Honda to their Magheramorne home.
"We have a number of fantastic sponsors that don't put us under any pressure and are on board for the same reasons we go racing - to see Scott enjoying his racing and hopefully fulfilling his dream," said Michael, who modestly didn't single anyone out in particular in his sponsor line-up.
The bike will be run under the Scott Swann Racing banner, but both Michael and Scott are indebted to everyone who has helped make this dream a reality, such as IFS Global Logistics, Valvenet, FonaCAB and Abbey Medicare to name but a few, not forgetting their undisputed loyal lieutenant Ferguson.
And understandably, Swann can't wait to get to Donington Park for the opening round of the season on April 2, but pragmatic as always, his dad Michael explained: "Scott knows the scale of the challenge ahead. We have a lot of people to thank for supporting us, none more so than Mr Webb at Carrickfergus College."
On their return from Spain, Scott Swann Racing will hold a fundraising evening on March 11 at Knockagh Lodge. For ticket information, email firstname.lastname@example.org