Rapidly emerging single-seater talent Will Bratt can rightly reflect on 2007 as the year he truly arrived as a racing driver; a superb race-winning season in Formula Renault UK augmented with the honour of being named a British Racing Drivers' Club 'Rising Star'.
To say the past 12 months have been nothing short of sensational is an understatement in itself, the 19-year-old Banbury racer achieving four race victories in Formula Renault UK, three other podiums and third place overall in the championship standings.
With the BRDC Rising Star accolade coming in mid-September, acknowledgement of his exceptional achievements this year with the Apotex Scorpio Motorsport team, Will also entered November's Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy where he set two pole positions on his series debut and took three podiums in total en route to becoming Vice-Champion.
Underlining his prowess as a single-seater racer in Formula Renault UK, undeniably one of the most competitive one-make, slicks and wings categories in the world, and also in FPA driving a car he had no previous experience of, Will is now aiming to graduate up the ladder in 2008 as he bids to climb the rungs towards the pinnacle of the sport.
Taking a top six finish during the first of the season's Formula Renault UK races at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent, Will's maiden podium of the campaign came during the following race meeting at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
The first visit of the year to Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire came at the beginning of May and saw the Oxford University scholar achieve fourth and sixth place results in the two races. However, it would be at Croft in North Yorkshire where Will's season would really take off with his first ever Formula Renault UK pole positions.
An outstanding qualifying performance saw the Oxon racer scorch to the top spot for both Croft races and a brace of incredible raceday drives enabled Will to achieve a memorable winning double. To cap the weekend off superbly, he was also awarded the THB Clowes Driver of the Day award for his round seven victory.
"To take two wins at Croft was absolutely fantastic but the biggest buzz for me was the way we achieved the double pole position in qualifying", said Will, "It was terrific to be back on the top step of the podium, everything went brilliantly for us all weekend. The car worked really well, I felt very comfortable and our strategy went totally to plan."
Third back-to-back win catapults Bratt into title picture Oulton Park Island Circuit was next on the calendar, the venue for Will's debut category race win in 2006, and the teenage star succeeded in recording a hat-trick of back-to-back 2007 victories with success at the Cheshire track for the second year in succession. After rocketing past pole-sitter Dean Smith at the start, Will was never headed.
Following a top six finish in the second Oulton Park race and a fifth place at Donington Park three weeks later, Will made a welcome return to the podium at the Leicestershire venue during round 12 with an excellent second place and then achieved another rostrum with third place at Snetterton in Norfolk in round 13. In the second race he finished fourth.
His fourth win of the year then came during the second Brands Hatch visit in August where he was also credited with pole position and the round 18 fastest lap after Duncan Tappy was justly excluded due to his Fortec Motorsport car contravening series regulations.
The biggest race meeting of the year for the Formula Renault UK runners took place in September at Donington Park's world-famous Grand Prix venue. Away from its regular slot on the British Touring Car Championship package, the category raced as support to the international World Series by Renault single-seater series.
Competing with a crowd of some 135,000 looking on over the course of the weekend, spectator numbers second only in the UK to the British Grand Prix, Will achieved sixth and fourth place results to consolidate his placing in the championship top three -- an event which also saw Will receive support from software developer Serif (Europe) Ltd. During the season finale at Thruxton, Will concluded the campaign with fourth and eighth places.
Will said: "Although not quite the end to the season I had in mind, overall it's been a fantastic year for us. The four wins are obviously what I remember most fondly but we've produced a lot of other very good performances too. I've really enjoyed the racing this year and to become a BRDC Rising Star was an incredible honour and privilege."
Palmer Audi debut brings poles and podiums After concluding his Formula Renault UK career in October, the decision was taken to enter November's Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy, the second meeting of which incorporated the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award 'Shoot-Out'. Having never driven an FPA car previously, Will excelled on his debut with a double pole position and podium.
Although the opening weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit didn't go according to plan in the races, a stunning performance at Snetterton a week later saw Will take two podiums and a fourth place to end the Autumn Trophy as Vice-Champion, rising from sixth place in the standings at Brands Hatch.
"Taking three podiums from six races, having never driven an FPA car prior to the Brands Hatch event, was very good going and I think we can be pleased to have finished the Autumn Trophy in the Vice-Champion's position", commented Will, "We encountered our fair share of problems and bad luck so all in all it was a pretty successful experience."
With 2007 marking Will's final season of action in Formula Renault, the teenager now has his sights set on climbing the single-seater ladder with a number of possibilities to think about including Formula 3, World Series by Renault and, more ambitiously, GP2. The Champ Car Atlantic and IndyPro categories in America also have much to offer.
Please note too, the www.willbratt.com website has been re-launched having undergone a facelift in preparation of the 2008 racing season. Log on to the website over the coming months for all the latest testing news and developments.