Southsea teenager, 15, makes it to final of national driving competition for fourth time despite not being old enough to drive

Daniel Roper behind the wheel at the Young Driver Challenge.Daniel Roper behind the wheel at the Young Driver Challenge.
Daniel Roper behind the wheel at the Young Driver Challenge.
A 15-year-old from Southsea has made the final of a national driving competition for the fourth time – despite not being old enough to hold a driving licence.

Daniel Roper, who is head boy for year 11 at Priory School, has achieved a place in the final of the Young Driver Challenge 2021 despite hundreds of entries.

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The competition is run by the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, Young Driver, and all entrants are aged between 10 and 16. Daniel also competed in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 finals.

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Having had lessons at several of Young Driver’s venues, Daniel was put forward by an instructor, who was impressed by his driving skills at a lesson earlier this year.

Young Driver lessons take place on private property in dual controlled Vauxhall Corsa’s with fully qualified instructors, and youngsters learn in real cars as they would on the road at 17.

Twenty finalists in each of two age categories – 10-13 and 14-16 – will now attend the final on October 2 at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The drivers will be put through their paces in a number of challenges, including safely handling a steering slalom, tackling junctions and roundabouts, confident use of the gears and clutch control and performing manoeuvres such as parking and an emergency stop.

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Daniel said: ‘I am really looking forward to being in the final again - it will be interesting to see how different it is in the older age group and it is nice to be driving again now that restrictions are being lifted.’

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing for Young Driver, said: ‘The pandemic put the brakes on the challenge last year, so we are delighted it’s now back and we’re very much looking forward to it. Congratulations to Daniel for making the final for an extremely impressive fourth time – it’s a real achievement.

‘The whole purpose of Young Driver is to create safer newly qualified drivers and it is great to be able to celebrate the achievements of those youngsters who are taking that responsibility very seriously.’

This year marks the seventh time the challenge has taken place. The final will be hosted by motoring expert and former presenter of Top Gear and Fifth Gear Quentin Willson.

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The winner will receive £200 and Young Driver lessons worth £750, whilst other prizes up for grabs include vouchers and signed copies of Quentin Willson’s book ‘Learn to Drive Without Tears and Tantrums’.

For more information about the scheme go to

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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