Mackenzie Clark Shares His Experience at the BirelART Richard Mille Young Talent Shootout in France
Dear CKN Nation,
Bonjour, I’m back for another edition of my CKN Driver’s blog series. This time I will be writing about my experience at the 2019 F4 Richard Mille Young Talent Academy in France.
Since I started karting, I have always been apart of the Prime Powerteam family. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work very closely with not only Prime but Birel ART as well. As of last year, Birel ART in partnership with Richard Mille created a new opportunity for their drivers to make the transition from karts to cars. The Richard Mille Young Talent Academy is a two-day evaluation of the drivers selected. This year, 18 international drivers, including myself were selected to compete for a free seat in the 2020 FIA French Formula 4 Championship.
Day one, we met all of the people working in the academy and received some pretty cool Academy swag. The competition took place in Le Mans, France at the FFSA academy. Day two consisted of a mental and physical evaluation. The staff at Formula Medicine definitely made us sweat. We did a casual 1.5-hour workout, immediately followed by relentless mental testing. And I thought I worked out hard at home!
I would like to point out how much I learned throughout this day, everyone was super friendly and made it extremely easy to be comfortable asking questions.
At last came the day I had been waiting for arrived. On day three we would be driving French Formula 4 cars around Circuit Bugatti, a short track version of the 24-hours of Le Mans. Because of the weather conditions, freezing fog, on-track action was delayed until after lunch. Track conditions were extremely poor, as it was below zero.
We had two sessions on track to prove ourselves. We were then reduced to a Final 6 where the winner would be decided. I am very proud to say, I was the youngest and least experienced in an F4 car to make the cut to the Final 6 shootout.
With the fog getting even worse we suited up for the final showdown. A 15 minute time trial session in which the best driver, not just speed, but progression, would emerge victorious. Even with the competition raging, I distinctly remember being in pure awe on my in-lap, as I took in what little of the famous circuit I could see in the fog. Remembering how lucky I was to simply be able to be in the car at that very moment. I did not win. The results are not given aside from the winner.
Before this experience presented itself to me, l never thought I would have the chance to race in Europe. I would like to thank everyone behind the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy for giving me that chance, it was a pleasure. I would also like to thank Prime Powerteam and Birel ART for giving me a shot at the European racing world. And of course a big shoutout to CKN and Cody for letting my driver blog saga continue, au revoir!