RISING Shandon rally star Fraser Anderson is preparing to make the step up to the British Rally Championship Academy Trophy this year as he aims to contest the junior British championship itself in 2022.

As one of the youngest drivers in the BRC, the 18-year-old will pilot a Ford Fiesta R2T, backed by Baxter and Gillespie, with support from two-time British Rally champion Matt Edwards. Anderson will contest his first-ever mixed surface championship, having progressed from the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge and a small selection of gravel events in 2020.

“I always planned to do the British Rally Championship,” says Anderson.

“It’s been on my radar pretty much most of my career and although the Junior BRC was really the goal, when I saw the BRC Academy Trophy I thought it would be a better proposition and offer realistic competition in a season like this.”

Despite an impressive list of events as a junior under his belt, Anderson has no family history in rallying and discovered his passion for the sport after a session at the famous Knockhill circuit in Fife.

“I had a very keen interest in cars at a young age,” he said, “so that led the family to take me to races during the holidays.

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“I always wanted to be a GT driver, to be honest, but after a driving experience the instructor said I was pretty good and I started off heading down the Junior 1000 series route but that was a tough introduction to rallying for me.”

As reported previously in the Advertiser, Anderson competed in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge in 2018 at the wheel of a Citroen C1 – and after only three events in the 2019 series, he caught Edwards’ eye and was offered the chance to compete in the British BTRDA Rally R2 Cup and selected British Junior Rally Championship events at the wheel of a Fiesta R2 in 2020.

But as with most sporting events, in Britain and around the world, Covid then got in the way, forcing the suspension of all competitive motorsport for much of the spring and summer.

And the teenager’s hopes then suffered a major blow when his car was destroyed in a fire during a testing session last August.

But he bounced back from that setback in style at the start of the year, securing a seat in an upgraded R2T run by RS Rallying and finishing on the podium in his first rally of the year – the Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru in January, run as a test event to enable the motorsport authorities to show the Welsh Government that events could be run safely and in line with all relevant Covid regulations.

Despite running a car that’s older than many of his Academy Trophy competitors, Anderson is eager to see how his pace compares with the rest of the field during the season, which starts with the Neil Howard Stages at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire on May 31.

READ MORE: Anderson says car fire 'won't ruin rallying ambitions'

All seven Academy Trophy events will be held as part of the main British Rally Championship calendar, visiting the forests of Powys, Aberdeenshire, Yorkshire, Conwy and even the Isle of Mull before concluding with the Ulster Rally in November.

“I can’t wait to get going in the Academy,” Anderson added.

“It will be great to have a fair crack at a championship.

“I’ll certainly be looking at getting near to the pace of the juniors and I`m confident that making my own pace notes will help. I did struggle with the way organisers’ route notes are made.

“Oulton Park is a good start as I have circuit experience from the juniors. But I need to get the rust off first as it’s been a long time away from asphalt.”

Rallying - like all forms of motorsport - is an expensive business, and Fraser and his family are always on the lookout for potential new sponsors to help meet the cost of competing. If you’re interested in helping Fraser climb the rallying ladder, contact George Anderson on 07891 813062 or by emailing surveying@baxterandgillespie.co.uk.