Belfast teenager Jack Young will take a giant step up in his racing career when he joins the World Touring Car Cup later this week.
The Methodist College student won the UK Renault Clio Cup last season in a battle that went down to the final race and has now been given the opportunity to move up to another level in the WTCR with Swiss-based Vukovic Motorsport, driving a newly-developed Renault Megane RS.
Just 18, he will be the youngest driver on the grid when the 16-race series, which will be based in Europe this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, begins next weekend at the Zolder circuit in Belgium, followed by events in Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Italy.
"Everything developed so quickly from winning the Clio Cup in the UK to driving a TCR car in Barcelona, twice finishing fourth, towards the end of last year. That was a fabulous experience and I was really happy to show the potential in the Renault," said Young, who was last season chosen as one of British racing's Rising Stars.
"The plan then was for a full season in TCR Europe this year but circumstances prevented that, obviously. However, when one door closes, another opens and suddenly the possibility to step up to WTCR with the new Renault from Vukovic Motorsport came along and I jumped at the chance."
He will race against some of the biggest names in world touring cars including three-time champion Andy Priaulx, Rob Huff, another former champion, ex-F1 driver Gabriele Tarquini and former British Touring Car champion Gordon Sheddon.
"Age won't be a factor on the start line. I've been racing against people who are much older than me for my whole career so I'm used to being the 'new kid'," he said. "I realise that I'm on a steep learning curve but I've shown that I can learn quickly."
The son of rally driver Philip Young, Jack started racing quads aged six, switched to karts at nine, winning titles across the UK, and moved to cars in the Clio Junior Cup series in his early teens.
By 16, and coached by British Touring Car champion Colin Turkington, he was racing in the main UK Clio Cup, winning it last year aged just 17 after heated battles with rival Max Coates, as well as the international series in France.