Teens make final of national driving contest

Four West Midlands’ teenagers have made the final of a national driving competition – despite not being old enough to hold a driving licence.

Finalist Matthew Haynes behind the wheel at a Youg Driver lesson.
Finalist Matthew Haynes behind the wheel at a Youg Driver lesson.

They have each been awarded a place in the final of the Young Driver Challenge 2021 on October 2, having beaten off stiff competition from hundreds of other entries from around the country.

The competition is run by the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, Young Driver, and all entrants are aged between 10 and 16.

The drivers are be put through their paces in a number of challenges, including safely handling a steering slalom, tackling junctions and roundabouts, confident use of the gears and clutch control and performing manoeuvres such as parking and an emergency stop.

A previous winner, fourteen-year-old Josh Burford from Hill Ridware near Lichfield, will be returning to try and claim a top spot again having won the 10-13 age category at the Young Driver Challenge 2019.

Young Driver Challenge finalist Josh Burford, from Hill Ridware.

The other West Midlands’ finalists are: Matthew Haynes, 13, from Wimblebury, Cannock, Josh Baker, 15, from Tipton, Dudley and Logan Sheridan, 16, from Shirley, Solihull.

The teens were put forward by their instructors, who were impressed by their respective driving skills at lessons earlier this year at various Young Driver venues across the Midlands.

Finalist Matthew Haynes from Wimblebury.

Lessons take place on private property in dual controlled Vauxhall Corsas with fully qualified instructors, and youngsters learn in a real car as they would on the road at 17.

Twenty finalists in each of two age categories – 10-13 and 14-16 – will now attend the final at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire hosted by motoring expert and former presenter of Top Gear and Fifth Gear Quentin Willson.

The winner of the Challenge will receive £200 and Young Driver lessons worth £750, whilst other prizes up for grabs include vouchers and signed copies of Quentin Willson’s book – ‘Learn to Drive Without Tears and Tantrums’.

Finalist Logan Sheridan from Shirley, Solihull.

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing for Young Driver, said: “The pandemic put the brakes on the challenge last year, so we are delighted it’s now back and we’re very much looking forward to it.

"Congratulations to all our West Midlands’ finalists – it’s a real achievement to get this far.

"It will be great to see previous winner Josh Burford competing again too.

"The skill of the talented drivers in the final surprises us every year, even though they’re all under 17.

Young Driver Challenge finalist Josh Baker from Tipton.

"The whole purpose of Young Driver is to create safer newly qualified drivers and it is great to be able to celebrate the achievements of those youngsters who are taking that responsibility very seriously – as well as having some fun.

"We can’t wait to see what talent the final brings this year and wish all our contestants the best of luck.”

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