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Di Resta: A star of the future

On Sunday evening Scotsman Paul di Resta was named the winner of the prestigious and highly coveted 2004 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. The 18-year-old not only takes the glittering title, but he receives a cheque for £50,000 and a test drive in a McLaren F1 car

Di Resta: A star of the future

"I can't explain it, it's totally unbelievable and to look down on my Dad and Dario [Franchitti, di Resta's cousin] at the table felt very emotional," di Resta told autosport.com. "But I believed in what I could do and just wanted to show everybody I could do it.

"It's pretty unbelieveable really, its awesome to do it at just 18 years old, it was my only chance to do it and was a big decider on what I would be doing next year."

Di Resta admitted he had kept his cool after the tests and was overcoming the nerves until the evening kicked off.

"Up until two hours ago I handled it pretty well and I didn't think about it, but once the awards started it felt like a lifetime, they just went on and on!" he said.

Nominees for the award were selected by the public and were then whittled down to six by a judging panel. Di Resta, who was third in this year's Formula Renault championship, lined up alongside 2004 Formula BMW GB champion Tim Bridgman, Formula Renault frontrunner Mike Conway, 2004 Formula Palmer Audi Champion Jonathan Kennard, 2004 EuroBOSS Champion Scott Mansell and fifth-placed Formula Renault driver Susie Stoddart.

All six underwent two days of evaluation at Silverstone driving an ADR Formula 3 car, an MG ZS BTCC car and a Mercedes C-Class DTM car, as well as some fitness tests.

Di Resta was the youngest driver in the group, having turned 18 during the 2004 season, and was in fact given special dispensation - as all drivers are of a similar age - to be considered for the award.

"The two-day tests were difficult, it was always going to be difficult because all the drivers are pretty good, but I managed to go through and I did my best on the day and obviously that was good enough," he said. "I look forward to next year now."

While di Resta did not win the Formula Renault championship, the Scot was a frontrunner throughout the season winning four races driving for Manor Motorsport. He graduated to the single-seater series after a successful karting career where he was looked after by his father Louis, a former driver himself.

Di Resta follows a number of great names who have had their name engraved on the winners' trophy including David Coulthard in 1989, Jenson Button in 1998 and Anthony Davidson in 2000.

But for the Scot, it's not about the title or the money, he just can't wait to get his hands on one of the most powerful motor racing cars on the planet - the McLaren F1.

"That's the most fantastic thing about it, the money is good and the title of Young Driver of the Year is great, but to get to drive a F1 car is mind-blowing!" he exclaimed. "I don't know what to expect but I look forward to the moment!"

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McLaren Award: Di Resta
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