A 17-YEAR-OLD racing driver is set to make his debut as the youngest racer on the grid of an illustrious championship as he takes the wheel this weekend.

Ethan Hammerton will pull on his racing boots and suit for the last two rounds of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), which will be held at the world-famous Silverstone and Brands Hatch circuits.

The Northallerton teenager has been called up to replace Team hard racer, Michael Caine, a former British GT Championship winner who has been racing in the BTCC since 2011.

The young racer overtook more than 100 other drivers to secure the Team Hard GKR Scaffolding Scholarship and has since been racing in the prestigious VW Cup Championship.

His move up to the BTCC has arrived far sooner than he expected and recognises his talent on track.

“I have been watching British Touring Cars at Croft with my mum, dad and brother since I was a young boy and I can’t believe I am now going to be actually racing in the championship,” he said.

“I switched from racing karts to racing cars in the Junior Saloon Car Championship when I was 15, in 2015, and it was my goal then to race in the BTCC and I’ve achieved that ambition – it’s a dream come true.”

Ethan will line-up on the BTCC’s Silverstone grid this weekend and will then compete in the season finale at Brands Hatch in September.

He added: “We were at the Rockingham round of the BTCC supporting Bobby Thompson and the rest of Team Hard when discussions started with Tony Gilham [team boss] and I am over the moon that everything is now in place and I can’t wait to get out in the car.

“I know it’s going to be tough given the lack of time in the car compared to the other drivers and the 45kg mandated ballast for new entrants.

“I fully appreciate the trust put in me and will put everything I have into doing well for Team Hard. I know how privileged I am to have been given this opportunity and I am realistic about my expectations

“I really want to be in the BTCC next year and am hoping that this is just the start of my BTCC career.”

Ethan started a total of 26 junior races in 2017 and he finished on the podium a staggering 21 times with race wins, lap records and fastest laps in both race series.

Team boss Tony Gilham said: “Ethan is a special talent which stood out from day one of the Team Hard Scholarship. He has excelled in every area for someone so young and is way above his years in terms of maturity.

“He has been working closely with Thompson and Renault UK Clio Cup Title Challenger Max Coates who both speak very highly of him too.

“He has already had a successful test in the VW CC and has impressed every member of the team. He is a star of the future, for sure.”

Ethan can expect to drive in front of thousands of petrolheads for the remainder of the season, with many more watching at home on ITV3.

The young driver has thanked his sponsors for their support and anyone able to sponsor him in the future can contact him for more information.

Sponsorship opportunities are available by searching Ethan Hammerton Racing on Facebook.