ARNSIDE-based racer Josh Smith has brought down the curtain on a glittering seven-year karting career after being confirmed as one of the youngest drivers to join the 2015 MSA Formula grid.

The fifteen year old Dallam High School pupil, whose career is supported by The Racing Steps Foundation, will swap his 80mph kart for a 130mph racing car with Northamptonshire-based Fortec Motorsports team.

He will make his single-seater car racing debut in the FIA-certified Formula 4 series at the famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent one week before his 16th birthday in April.

After winning the International X30 Junior Finals at Le Mans in France last October to conclude his ultra successful junior karting career, Smith feels it is the perfect time to move into cars and showcase his prodigious talent to a much wider audience.

“This will be the biggest step of my career so far,” says Smith, who has to balance his racing and training with his GCSEs this year. “Car racing is completely different to karting. It is a whole new world but the Racing Steps Foundation have put me with an excellent team who have really made me feel like part of their family so I know I will have the best support around me to help me get up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Having earned his stripes in the ultra competitive British Cadet Championship and the world renowned European KF karting series, Smith will join many of the best young drivers in the world in the MSA Formula Championship, which forms part of the popular British Touring Car support package.

With races at Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Donington Park and many other famous venues, Josh is also excited about the live TV coverage on ITV4 that will finally give his friends and supporters an insight into his life away from the classroom.

If Josh is unfazed by the prospect of racing on live TV and in front of regular crowds in excess of 30,000 per round, he is also ready for the huge leap in speed he will experience in his new purpose built 1.6-litre Ford-powered Mygale chassis.

“I know how tough this is going to be and the competition will be intense,” says Josh. “I’m working really hard on my training because if you aren’t physically fit, you aren’t mentally fit - and in car racing if you aren’t mentally fit it leads to accidents. I’m up at 6:30am most mornings training before school, I want to hit the ground running when the season starts.

“I know a lot of my rivals from karting and how talented they are but this year is my third season with the RSF and a lot of people have put a lot of faith, support and money into my career so I am not going in there just to make up the numbers. It might be my first year in cars but I want to be running consistently at the front and winning races by the end of the year.

“None of this would be possible without the support of the RSF, my family and my school. I was able to give them a world title in karting last year and I want to give them more success this season.”