2024 Motorsport UK Academy Young Driver of the Year Finalists announced

Friday 28 June 2024

The five finalists in contention for the Motorsport UK Academy 2024 Young Driver of the Year award have been announced ahead of the shootout on Tuesday 9 July at iZone Driver Performance.

Each year, standout second-year students are shortlisted for the award, which recognises sporting excellence as well as academic performance, along with attainment, effort and overall engagement.

Connor Clifford (MSVT Mazda MX5 Miata Trophy), Seb Hopkins (Porsche Sprint Challenge GB), Loui Hounsell (Racing Hondas Championship), Ronnie Smith (Mini Challenge Trophy) and Sid Smith (Porsche Carrera Cup GB), will be invited to iZone Driver Performance for a day of assessments.

The nominees will be asked to complete a series of physical fitness tests, driving skill assessments on Silverstone-based iZone’s three state-of-the art GT and single-seater simulators, in addition to undergoing panel interviews and presenting on their own experiences gained during the Motorsport UK Academy Enhanced DiSE Programme.

The Enhanced DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme is delivered in collaboration with Loughborough College and is a bespoke, two-year sporting excellence and motor vehicle education course designed to support talented drivers and co-drivers through both the sporting and academic pathway.

The experienced judging panel will assess the attendees long-term motorsport aspirations and technical and tactical understanding learned during time with the programme, on this year’s panel sits: Neil Riddiford and John Pratt from iZone Driver Performance, Adam Gould, Elite Sport Assessor, Loughborough College, the Commentator and Presenter Chris McCarthy, Marcus Littlewood, Young Driver of the Year 2023 and Katie Baldwin, Head of Competitor Development, Motorsport UK.

“Congratulations to Connor, Seb, Loui, Ronnie and Sid on being nominated for this years’ Young Driver of the Year award,” commented Katie Baldwin, Head of Competitor Development, Motorsport UK.

“The five nominees have really excelled on the Enhanced DiSE programme, showcasing their talent and development as a driver during the past two years. We are looking forward to seeing their progression through the sport on a personal and professional level.”

The winner will receive a trophy at the 2025 Night of Champions, presented by Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers, as well as a comprehensive package including training and development with iZone Driver Performance and a place as a guest judge in next year’s Young Driver of the Year award.

More information about the programme can be found here.

The Finalists

Connor Clifford has been competing in the MSVT Mazda MX5 Miata Trophy, achieving 4th place in only the second round of the season against highly experienced competitors and 5th place overall.

Seb Hopkins has been competing with Team Parker Racing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB. He has just completed his first round of the season at Snetterton, with double pole, a double win and two fastest laps, placing him in P1 for RS Pro.

Loui Hounsell has been racing in the Racing Hondas Championship. After two weekends, Loui was in P2 of his class after taking four podiums in the opening four races at Anglesey, even with two DNF. He is currently P3 in Class B standings.

Ronnie Smith has had two rounds in the Mini Challenge Trophy Championship and to great success, taking all 3 Rookie wins by some distance and finished P5 twice and a P6 in race three. The 2nd round took place at Pembrey, where he claimed podium despite illness. He is currently overall and P1 Rookie Class.

Sid Smith has had an exciting season so far in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, adjusting to a new car and team, resulting in some unexpected wins in the Pro-Am class. Sid currently sits P1 in that class and P3 in the Rookie class.