IN THE YEAR THE Aussie's attempt to reclaim Cricket's Ashes, local drivers will again need to fight to reclaim Australia's Premier Open Wheel series following conformation that Team BRM has snared yet another young international star for a Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship campaign.
18 year-old driver Ben Barker will seek to win a third consecutive Gold Star for both Team BRM and the United Kingdom when he takes to the grid this year.
Barker is a graduate of the British Formula Ford Championship and lives near Cambridge in the Suffolk countryside - but this year he'll be Sydney based and will look for the same kind of success enjoyed by James Winslow and Joey Foster, in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Barker has completed three test days with the five-time championship outfit and has shown impressive speed - despite this being just his second year in racing cars.
"I'm excited, to say the least," Barker said.
"I've had just one year in British Formula Ford, one year in cars full stop. To step up this quickly is really exciting but the couple of test days we have had so far have gone really well so it's been a good start."
Barker finished 8th in the British Formula Ford championship in 2009 - his first ever year of car racing.
After beginning his learning process during the first few rounds, the lanky Brit quickly adapted and by the middle of the season won his first race - at Knockhill in Scotland - and elevated himself into the top eight of the standings by the end of the year with a series of strong top-five performances.
He also finished fourth in the final of the prestigious Formula Ford festival late last year.
Barker was introduced to the Adelaide squad by 2008 champion James Winslow, an invite to test the 2009 title-winning F307 at Winton late last year quickly leading to a race deal for this season.
"I think I am really suited to ‘wings and slicks' cars, I feel like I have come to grips with them quickly," he said.
"I was always looking at F3 (As an option for this year), but we couldn't raise the budget to run at the front in the British Championship. I didn't want to run in the National Class and I didn't want to get stuck in Formula Ford again, so when James got in touch and this opportunity came up, we took it.
"I was looking for a category that could give me a progression to the higher levels and this was a logical choice with the budget available.
"The talk is that it is going to be a good year with some really strong competition and that's what I want," he added.
"I'm going to go out and do the best I can and I hope we can have some good, close, fast and hard racing. I'm looking forward to working with the team and getting into the season.
"We Brit's have had a lot of success down here so hopefully I can keep flying the flag!"
Barker will live in Sydney this year and has already received support from several local businesses, including Race Fit and Driving Solutions, to go with his existing backers Cars Automovie.