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A teenager who won a major national e-sports motor racing competition final held at the University of Bolton, has secured a place on the 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship.
E-sports star Deagen Fairclough will climb behind the wheel as part of the JHR Developments motor racing team.
The 16-year-old earned his amazing opportunity after victory at the inaugural ROKiT Racing Star final last year, which took place at the University’s pioneering National Centre for Motorsport Engineering.
Fifteen of the country’s brightest e-sports stars, seven girls and eight boys, raced in a fleet of £85,000 state-of-the-art simulators specially imported to the University of Bolton from Switzerland.
They were battling for a chance to win seats in this year’s F4 campaign and Deagen, from Crawley, West Sussex, who started racing in karting aged just five and moved to closed-wheel cars at 13, was eventually crowned the winner.
Following his Racing Star scholarship, he now has taken the opportunity to move to open-wheel racing in the ROKiT British F4 Championship, a move that would previously have never been able to afford.
JHR and Deagen have been testing at Snetterton and Donington Park, with more to follow.
The first round of the 2023 ROKiT British F4 Championship takes place at Donington Park on 22 and 23 April.
Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman and co-founder of the ROKiT Group of Companies, said: “Deagen was a very worthy winner of the inaugural ROKiT Racing Star programme which we set up to find the next generation of motorsport talent in a pioneering way.
“It offered the opportunity to young drivers who otherwise couldn’t access high-end motorsport. To get onto this ladder to Formula One in this way is something that hasn’t been done before.
“It was tough for Deagen to win this opportunity and it will be a hard year for him with a lot of learning ahead, but I have every confidence in him.”
Steven Hunter, Team Principal of JHR Developments, added: “We’re delighted to have Deagen on board and, while there's a lot of work to do over the next three or four weeks, we’ll work hard to make sure he’s up to speed for the start of the season.”
Deagen said he was “over the moon” to finally be racing in British F4 with JHR and ROKiT.
He said: “This is the most unbelievable prize of a lifetime that the ROKiT Racing Star competition has given me.
“I hope I can do Jonathan, ROKiT, JHR and Racing Star proud. I’ve got a lot to learn having never raced a car like this before, as I’ve come from a closed, front-wheel drive Fiesta, so progression and consistency will be key.
“I’m hoping to achieve some good results and look forward to an immense year ahead in this prestigious series which happens to start on my birthday weekend. What a birthday that’s going to be!”
Dr Mark Busfield, Director of NCME, said: “We were delighted to host the ROKiT Racing Star finals at the University of Bolton’s National Centre for Motorsport Engineering.
“The whole idea was to give youngsters from all backgrounds the opportunity to get their foot in the door of motor racing which is way out of the financial reach of most people.
“It is fantastic to see Deagen progressing so well after his excellent performance in Bolton last year, and a wonderful opportunity for some of our motorsport engineering students be involved in the process of preparing and running the car.”