Max Bird finished fourth overall in the highly-competitive Ginetta GT5 Challenge championship in only his second full season of racing.
After some solid results in the opening rounds of the 2018 Ginetta GT5 Challenge series, the 18-year-old college student from Chidham took his first win of the season at Thruxton in a thrilling race that saw him cross the line 0.1sec in front of the second-place car.
A technical problem with his car at Silverstone hampered his qualifying and as a result he started 14th for race one making up eight places to finish sixth and then took eighth in race two.
At the halfway point in the season Bird was sixth in the championship, with the next race at the famous Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, a track he had never visited.
He impressed immediately and recorded eighth and sixth places to move up to fifth in the championship.
Then it was off to Knockhill in Scotland and despite being the middle of August it was wet and cold most of the weekend.
On only his second visit, Bird qualified fourth and was on the podium in both races with a second in race one and a third in race two which moved him up to fourth in the standings.
In the final round at Donington, a circuit he enjoys, Bird made his mark in qualifying by setting the second quickest time, 0.05sec off pole position time to put him on the front row for race one.
The first race was wet and after a slow start which dropped him to sixth, Bird set about picking off the drivers in front, taking the lead on the penultimate lap to win by a clear margin, setting fastest lap in the process.
Starting in pole position for race two, Bird led from start to finish to take his second win of the weekend and another fastest lap.
For race three the top 10 from race two were reversed so Bird started 10th and, with a shortened race because of a red flag, he got up to third at the end of only six laps.
With three podiums and two fastest laps Bird ended fourth in the championship just missing out on third by a few points.
It was a creditable result in such a competitive series where typically no more than one second will cover the top 15 cars in qualifying.
Bird said: ‘My driving has improved during the year and with such a competitive grid I am pleased with my fourth place and feel ready for the next challenge.’
During the winter, Bird has a number of tests lined up, including the BMW M4 GT4 car that won the British GT championship in 2018, the Porsche 911 Cup car that competes in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship and the Ginetta G55 that competes in the Ginetta Super Cup championship – all before deciding on where he will race in 2019.
He has received support in 2018 from the international company Orbx Simulation Systems and from local firms including Bluebird Developments, Artec Engineering, Sycamore Cars, Core Results, Game Set & Match and the Goodwood Health Club.
John Venema, of Orbx, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to have supported Max this year and are very impressed with the tremendous results that he has achieved.’
To compete at the next level Bird needs to attract further support. Anyone interested in backing his journey as a professional racing driver can email email@example.com
You can follow his progress in 2019 at maxbird.co.uk, on Twitter @maxbird35 or on Facebook by searching maxbirdracing