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Thorburn gets Road to Indy chance by winning Super Series shootout

Cliff Dempsey Racing’s Jamie Thorburn will take part in the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship showdown in Arizona next month after winning the Super Series Shootout at Silverstone’s iZone facility.

The Duns racer, who finished fourth in this year’s Britcover BRSCC National Formula Ford 1600 Championship, came through a combination of physical tests and simulation work in front of a panel of judges.

He was one of a group of drivers given the opportunity to participate in Friday’s ‘shootout for the shootout’ by virtue of impressive performances in James Beckett’s Champion of Brands or Super Series events.

“I’m still in shock, to be quite honest, I never really expected to be selected in the first place,” Thorburn told FF1600website.

“Single-seaters is my passion and there are great opportunities in America to achieve this thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.

“It feels amazing to be able to go out there and represent the UK and Scotland against some of the best drivers in the world.”

Thorburn beat the likes of James Roe Jr and and fellow Scot Sebastian Melrose to secure the last remaining place for the scheme, which offers a $20,000 scholarship in USF2000 next year.

Finalists had to perform well enough in a series of physical and mental tests, before asserting themselves on iZone’s state-of-the-art simulator set up around the Indianapolis road course, with each driver’s lap-time carefully monitored.

Thorburn said: “In the morning we did some normal fitness tests and I did alright in those ones.

“Then we focused on reaction tests, so how I coped under braking, at the starts and the judges were quite impressed with how I handled those too.

“I’d never really had any experience of simulators before though, just an Xbox at home, so this was quite different.

“We had to do 16 laps around the Indy road course in a Formula Ford car, and 16 laps in a Formula 3 car. I managed the fastest laps in both of these sessions which was amazing.”

While Thorburn surprised even himself with his performances, he is not getting carried away just yet. The 19-year-old is going to Arizona’s Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park determined to upstage the favourites and take the big prize.

“I’m not going to big myself up and say ‘I’m definitely going to win it’ but I believe in my own ability and feel I deserve to be there.

“Whether it goes well or not, I’m just going to soak up the experience and enjoy it. It’s hard to tell what it’ll be like but I’m just going to make the most of it.”

Thorburn has made no secret of his plans to continue in single-seaters in 2018 and feels that regardless of what happens in Arizona in December, he is keen to remain in Formula Ford next season.

“My current sponsors Hindley Circuits have recently just committed to another season with me and I know Cliff [Dempsey] wants me to carry on for another year of National,” Thorburn added.

“So that is the plan, to come back and give the title a crack. It’ll be a lot tougher with some very promising new drivers coming up, but I’m up for the challenge.

“But then again, MRTI could change all that and it would be wrong to ignore that. I just need to take it as it comes.”

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