Just days after the British Touring Car Championship visited Knockhill, one of Scotland’s most up-and-coming racing drivers, Edinburgh’s Oly Mortimer, has received a career-saving opportunity.
Despite dominating the British Mini Championship last year, the 24-year-old motor technician with Edinburgh’s Western VW was left without a drive this season simply because he and his father Glen couldn’t raise sufficient funds.
Now, completely out of the blue, the young racer finds himself leading not only a three-car team in next season’s British Mini Championship, but with the possibility of progressing through the ranks to the Seat Cupra Championship — the feeder series to BTCC — in 2010.
“I can’t believe how our luck has changed,” a rather bewildered Mortimer admitted. “This opportunity has completely out of the blue.”
The opportunity arose through a phone call made by Liverpool-based businessman Steve James whose company, Ellesmere Port-based Formula International, had run a successful drag racing team.
“Funnily enough, because of the bad weather this summer and the continuing wet conditions which forced the cancellation of so many drag meetings, Steve decided it was time to move into Minis,” Mortimer snr explained.
“Through the grapevine he heard we weren’t racing and he called to see if he could buy our championship-winning Mini. I told him it wasn’t for sale and explained we were hoping to raise the budget to go back racing next year.
“As soon as he heard that, he told me he’d buy the car and offered to run Oly in next year’s championship under the Formula International banner. Not only that, but he’s going to run another couple of cars, one of which will be driven by Nick Booth from Liverpool.”
While it’s expected Booth will contest the entry-level Clubman class, Mortimer will again race in the premier Mini Cooper S championship. The Scots youngster will also coach both the team’s other drivers.
“This is a major boost to my racing career,” Mortimer — whose Mini will again be prepared by Edinburgh-based David Kerr and Tynecastle Garage — admitted. “It means I can concentrate on racing and hopefully it will make me even better and faster.
“Steve has said that if things go the way we expect them to go next year then a move up to the Seat Championship isn’t out of the question. I know he’s making a big commitment, but I’m equally determined to deliver the goods and make sure his investment pays off.”