A DEVON teenager has his sights set firmly on becoming one of the world’s best rallycross drivers.
Dan Rooke, 19, has already proved himself as the country’s top young prospect by becoming MSA British Rallycross champion.
He has now been handed the chance to make his mark on the international scene by securing a team to compete in the 2017 RX2 International Series.
Rooke will be the only Brit competing in the series, which is the feeder competition for the prestigious RX FIA World Championship.
He will make his debut competing for Team Faren on May 13 in Belgium.
“RX2 is an aspirational series for any young rallycross driver aiming to reach the top of the sport,” said Rooke.
“There’s a real buzz around RX2 right now, with an ever-growing profile. For me it is the perfect stepping-stone to move up from the British Championship to the international stage.”
He added: “The plan is to do all the European rounds of the RX2 Championship. That’s five rounds in Belgium, UK, Sweden, Norway and France.
“If we can get the extra budget we hope to do the full season, which takes in two extra rounds in Canada and South Africa.
“Unfortunately, we are short of budget, so the plan is also to try and get some more sponsors on board.
“My aim is to make my way up the ladder and go from what is now a feeder category to the headline championship.
“I would like to be able to drive for a manufacturer, racing in the World Championship and being competitive.”
Rallycross is the fastest-growing motorsport and has really taken off since the first FIA World Championship took place in 2014. Yet, there is only one Brit – Guy Wilks – competing at the top level.
“It is basically a combination of all forms of motorsport chucked into one,” said Rooke.
“In the top category, the cars accelerate to 60 miles an hour quicker than a Formula 1 car and you are against five other guys on a track, which is a mixture of tarmac and loose surface, with a bit of contact. Personally, I don’t think you can ask for much more from a motorsport really.”
He added: “I had seen it on the TV and had gone to a few events and it was a sport I fell in love with as a spectator first.
“I knew I wanted to compete in it, so we pursued it at the end of 2014.”
Rooke, who was recently in Barcelona to promote rallycross at a media day, has always had a love for motorsport.
“It comes from my dad really,” said the 19-year-old. “He was a rally driver. He used to compete in tarmac rallies and he started me in motorsport from a young age.
“I began in go-karts at the age of eight, just going around the local tracks in the South West.”
“I took a couple of years out when I was about 12 and started learning a bit of basic car control in a field.
“I took part in a couple of local club auto-tests. From there I stepped into a sport called auto-cross, which is a timed event off-road.
“And from that I then got in touch with some people who competed in rallycross. I made my debut in that and managed to win my class and from there it has just been upwards.
“My first full season was in 2015 and I competed in the NSA super-national class. I managed to win that category in my first year and then I got offered a drive in what is called a super-car, which is the top class in Britain.
“I took full advantage of that and managed to win the championship which has got me to where I am today – looking to move up to the international stage.”
Although Rooke is hoping his career is going to go on to bigger and better things, he is sensible enough to know that lots of things could go wrong.
“Last year I trained up as an outdoor instructor, just so that I had a back-up plan if racing failed,” he admitted. “But the main plan has always been to try and make a career as a driver. However, there are only a very few people able to manage to do that.
“But I’m hoping if I dedicate enough time and effort now it will pay off further down the line.”
He is hoping he can get more local sponsors and supporters on board, so he can complete all seven RX2 International Series legs. Among the West Country companies to come forward to support and mentor him are Parnell Engineering Advanced Limited.