Racing driver back on track after funding loss

Kenneth Thirwall. Picture: contributed
Kenneth Thirwall. Picture: contributed
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East Lothian racing driver Kenneth Thirlwall is no stranger to roaring from the back of the grid into pole position.

The petrolhead hit rock bottom just 12 months ago, losing his job with motoring retailer Land Rover and being forced to quit the British Formula Ford Championship due to a lack of funding despite holding the early series lead.

Now the 23-year-old is back firing on all cylinders.

He has successfully opened his own garage in Gullane and motored into position as the frontrunner in the Scottish Mini Cooper Cup with a string of podium finishes last month.

And in the latest coup for the former Scottish Formula Ford Championship winner, Edinburgh College has signed on to become a major sponsor of the former student.

Kenneth, a motor vehicle student at the now-merged Jewel and Esk College in 2006, is receiving £1000 courtesy of the sponsorship deal.

He has also taken on 19-year-old Haddington apprentice Jack Fairgrieve as his race mechanic, with aspirations of helping to train the next generation of Scottish 
racing champions.

The return to form has allowed Kenneth to again set his sights on cracking into the big time – and this time staying there.

He said: “I hope I impress the college and I can keep them on board for the next couple of years at least.

“We want to go down for the British championship again, see if we can get a good shot at it and what we can really do.”

On his Edinburgh College apprentice, Kenneth said: “It’s been really easy and he’s a great help around here as well. He’s currently building a track car, so he can get some 
experience with the mechanical side of it and with driving.”

Kenneth has shown a knack for putting together his own speed machine, having personally rebuilt his racing car with all new parts, including a full engine rebuild.

The Lothians have a knack of producing racing drivers. Former IndyCar Series 
champion Dario Franchitti hailed from Bathgate, while his cousin Paul di Resta, also from West Lothian, has been turning heads racing for Force India in Formula One.

Kenneth said of the local production line of good racers: “It’s just the Scottish blood – it’s always determined to keep winning. It’s not a case that we give up when it gets tough. We keep plugging away.”

Edinburgh College programme manager Ross Milligan said: “We are building on what Kenneth has achieved in the past and looking to continue the sponsorship into 2014, so it’s a long-term 
investment for the college.”