A SPEED-MAD teen-ager from Hemingford is preparing to take on the world s best young drivers — with the winner earning a test in a Formula One car. Tom Dunstan, 16, has just completed his first Formula BMW UK Championship season and has now been invited t

Tom Dunstan

A SPEED-MAD teen-ager from Hemingford is preparing to take on the world's best young drivers - with the winner earning a test in a Formula One car.

Tom Dunstan, 16, has just completed his first Formula BMW UK Championship season and has now been invited to take part in next month's BMW World Final in Valencia, Spain.

The event winner - as well as a financial prize - gets the opportunity to test in a Formula One car.

The young prodigy's achievement is all the more astonishing considering he has only been racing for 18 months and is already one of the hottest prospects.

Tom has spent the past seven months racing at some of the UK's premier circuits, including Silverstone and Brands Hatch with the Nexa Racing team, driving an FB02 class car. The vehicle has a top speed of 145mph and an average lapping speed of more than 100mph.

The Formula BMW Class has helped launch the careers of some top motor sport stars including Formula One's Nico Rosberg and Ralf Schumacher.

Following the end of the season, another Formula BMW team - Team Loctite - approached Tom and asked him to represent them at the World event.

Tom's proud father Keith said: "We are all absolutely delighted that Tom has been invited to test himself against the best in the world.

"Motor sport really has taken over all of our lives since we started to realise Tom's level of ability and this is another major step on the road."

Tom, who has just begun a motor mechanics course at Cambridge Regional College, spends most evenings in the gym, working on his physical fitness.

Keith said: "While we don't expect Tom to win the event, it is a fantastic compliment for him to be asked to attend, given his relative inexperience in racing."

Providing Tom with the opportunity to race with the best has taken its financial toll on the family. Tom's first season in Formula BMW cost well into six figures to finance and Keith admits sponsorship is absolutely essential.

He said: "There is just no way a normal family like us can afford the sort of sums motor racing involves and if it weren't for the generosity of Tom's sponsor Dr Paul Sherwood, we would have no chance of meeting the cost.

"Even this trip to Valencia will cost us a five-figure sum so we are looking for any form of help from companies or individuals to help enable Tom to fulfil his potential."

INFORMATION: To learn more about Tom Dunstan and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.tomdunstan.co.uk