Stepping up to KF2 in partnership with ART Grand PrixSilverstone-based squad to debut all-new ART TS-01 chassis in UK and Europe

    The Racing Steps Foundation-backed Zip Young Guns kart racing team is joining forces with ART Grand Prix for the 2012 season.

    The tie-up with the renowned French single-seater squad – which is making its international kart racing debut in the KF, KZ and mini-kart categories – signals a switch to ART Grand Prix’s own-design kart for the British team.

    The new karting venture will see 15 years-old RSF drivers Ben Barnicoat (Chesterfield, Derbyshire), Ricky Collard (Eversley, Hampshire) and Sam Webster (Weymouth, Dorset) campaigning the ART Grand Prix chassis in UK, European and CIK-FIA events.

    The 2012 race programme includes the South Garda Winter Cup, the MSA Super 1 KF2 Championship, the WSK Euro Series, and the CIK-FIA U18s World Karting and European Championships plus the CIK-FIA World Cup.

    All three RSF drivers will race with the Armando Filini-managed ART Grand Prix factory team in the CIK-FIA U18s World Championship and the RSF Zip Young Guns in the MSA KF2 Championship in the UK.

    Barnicoat and Collard will also drive for the Manerbio-based karting newcomers in the WSK Euro Series. The Chesterfield kart champion is also included in the factory team’s line up for the CIK-FIA European Championship and CIK-FIA World Cup.

    Barnicoat’s first competitive outing in the ART TS-01 kart will be in the South Garda Winter Cup later this month (February 15-19). The first UK race for the drivers will be the Winter Series meeting at Shenington (March 9-11).

    “ART Grand Prix is one of the most successful teams in single-seater racing outside Formula 1 and the Zip Young Guns have an equally impressive record in international karting,” said RSF founder Graham Sharp.

    “By dint of this arrangement our drivers will now benefit from the technical and competitive strengths that each brings to the partnership.”

    Nicolas Todt, co-owner of ART Grand Prix, added: “The ethos of our company is to prepare young drivers for the pinnacle of motor racing.

    “So it’s only natural that we should want to get involved at grass roots level where their journeys begin. In this way we can find and develop the drivers with the potential and determination to make it to the top of our sport.

    “This venture with the RSF Zip Young Guns will help us to do that. Our philosophy matches theirs perfectly. Both parties want to prepare these young drivers in the proper way for what lies ahead.

    “We also share the same enthusiasm, determination and can-do attitude. So we hope to accomplish great things together.”

    Young Guns team manager Grant Munro, who will oversee the relationship between the RSF drivers and ART Grand Prix on behalf of the Foundation, echoed the sentiments.

    “I believe this will be another milestone in the life of the Zip Young Guns team and one of which our late founder Martin Hines would have approved whole-heartedly,” he said.

    “ART Grand Prix are all about winning as are Zip which has Martin’s winning mentality embedded in its DNA. So hopefully between us we’ll get the results each of the parties is aiming for.”

    The new partnership was brokered by the RSF which enjoys a strong relationship with Lotus ART (now known as Lotus GP in single-seater racing) following last year’s Formula 1-supporting GP3 campaign.

    RSF driver and former European kart champion James Calado ended the season as GP3 championship runner-up driving for Lotus ART and will race with the team again this season in GP2.