A 12 and a 14 year old from Wales have made the final of a national driving competition – despite not being old enough to hold a driving licence.
Jenson Jones, 12, from Clydach Vale, Tonypandy and Cameron Redwood, 14, from Llandough, Penarth have both been awarded a place in the final of the Young Driver Challenge 2021, having beaten off stiff competition from hundreds of other entries. The competition is run by the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, Young Driver, and all entrants are aged between 10 and 16.
Having had several lessons at Young Driver’s Cardiff venue, both Jenson and Cameron were put forward by their instructors, who were impressed by their driving skills at a lesson earlier this year. Young Driver 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 which is being held on 2 October at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire. There the drivers will 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.
This year marks the seventh time the Challenge has taken place. The final will be 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’.
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 both Jenson and Cameron for making the final – it’s a real achievement. The skill of the talented drivers in the final surprises us every year, even though they’re all under 17.
“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!”
Jenson, who goes to Ysgol Nantgwyn, said, “I’m very happy I made it into the final. I’ve had about 10 lessons with Young Driver and have enjoyed all of them. As soon as I get in the car I get straight onto learning how to handle a car and the instructors are very helpful.
“It’s really fun and it will definitely help when I’m 17 and driving on the road. I hope I’m good in the final but most of all I’m going to have fun.”
Cameron, a pupil at St. Cyres Comprehensive, added, “I’m so amazed that I’ve made it to the final of the Young Driver challenge, it’s unbelievable! I’ve always looked forward to my lessons and really enjoy them. You get straight on with learning how to handle a car and the instructors are always very helpful and supportive. It’s good fun, but also I know it will help a lot when I get to 17 and start to learn on the road. I’m hoping I’ll do well at the final, but I’m just going to try my best and enjoy the whole experience!”