SCOTS racer Aiden Moffat confirmed he will contest the full British Touring Car season next year, and then casually went off and passed his driving test at the first time of asking.
It is just over two months ago that the Dalkeith racer, then aged 16 years 10 months and 28 days, became the youngest-ever racer to compete in the BTCC when he drove an S2000 Chevrolet Cruze at Knockhill.
Now, with just three rounds under his belt — at Knockhill, then Silverstone and Brands Hatch, where he drove a VW Passat — the youngster is to lead the family-run Aiden Moffat Racing in next year’s 30-race campaign.
The team, led by dad, Bob, owner of logistics company A1 Automotive, has purchased the RML-built NGTC Chevrolet Cruze previously run by Andy Neate.
The Cruze BTCC racer comes with a stack of history: Jason Plato won the title in an RML-prepared Cruze in its debut season, in 2010.
“I spoke to a lot of people about the Chevrolet,” Moffat snr explained yesterday, as Aiden was sitting his test in a Peugeot 308 at Musselburgh.
“I think there’s a lot of good build quality in the car and, allied to the limited track time the car had this season, means it was pretty good value. It’s also smaller than the Passat, and Aiden feels a lot more comfortable in the Cruze.”
The car will be prepared in Scotland and shipped to race tracks around the UK, starting with Brands on March 30.
The championship arrives at Knockhill on August 23/24 and Moffat Snr admits the team faces a steep learning curve with the new vehicle.
“We need to spend time learning the car and making sure we get the set-up right,” he explained.
“We need to test the car and get Aiden comfortable in it. With that baseline, we can build from there.
“The grids next year are going to be very busy: it’s not the biggest saloon car championship in the UK for nothing. And because of that, we’re setting ourselves realistic goals. The first half of the season will be about bedding down as a team, car and driver. Remember, there will be a number of tracks where Aiden has never raced before, and learning a track and a new car will be challenging.
“But he’s already shown he has the ability, and definitely the potential, to make his mark in the BTCC, and we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure he has the right tools to do the job.”
For Moffat jnr — who started karting aged 12, and this year competed in the Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup as well as the Scottish Ford Fiesta Championship, winning nine of the last ten Fiesta races — there is no denying this is a big step, but a step he clearly has the ability to make.
“I dipped my toe into BTCC this season, and loved it,” the youngster said. “It was all a bit new and nervous first time out at Knockhill, but by Silverstone and Brands I was much more comfortable.
“At Brands in the rain I was pushing for a top-10 finish, and at one stage my lap times were faster than [Jason] Plato’s. I only race to win, and I hope to do that at some point in the Cruze — it is a fantastic car.”
Last word should go to Gavin Neill, the driving instructor who helped make him road-legal.
“Aiden was the perfect pupil,” the Gavin’s Driving School boss stated. “He could obviously drive when he came to me: all I needed to do was ensure he was safe on the roads, which he definitely is.”
Driving test successfully out of the way, the young Scot can now concentrate fully on racing bumper-to-bumper with BTCC stalwarts like Gordon Shedden, Plato and new champion Andrew Jordan in 2014.