Josh Smith will contest the National Formula Ford 1600 Championship next year with Oldfield Motorsport, after sealing the Northern title together earlier this year.
Smith switched from a Firman chassis to an Oldfield-prepared Van Diemen ahead of the Anglesey meeting of both series in September. He went on to win the last four Northen races of the year, along with a victory in the final race of the year in National.
This strong late-season form led team boss James Oldfield to reach out to Smith and his family to secure a deal for the 2018 season.
“Josh is a born racer. You can tell he’s naturally talented at driving,” said Oldfield.
“His focus all the time is to push himself as far as possible, and it’s within his ability to win.
Smith completed the remainder of the 2017 season on a race-by-race basis after ditching his Firman, leaving Oldfield keen to strike a permanent deal as quickly as possible.
“There was no plan for him to [do] the rest of the season with us,” he said.
“We did Anglesey and got on really well, went to Oulton and got on really well, [then we] went to the Festival.
“We’ve worked hard over the last two weeks since the Walter Hayes until the point where the family, Josh, and the sponsors have had enough to work with to move forward and get it announced nice and early.”
All-new line-up possible for Oldfield next year
Smith’s confirmation leaves a single car vacant for next season at Oldfield, with would-be FF1600 rookie Hugo Bentley-Ellis in the frame for the second car.
The 16-year-old kart racer has recently tested a Van Diemen with Oldfield on two separate occasions, though any potential tie-up between driver and team is still some way off.
“Hugo Bentley Ellis has been doing some testing with us. He drove at Donington Park on Thursday this week and Silverstone the week before,” said Oldfield.
“They’re very keen to get involved, but nothing is confirmed there yet. They’re also weighing up options.
“I’d like to think he’d be joining us on the grid at some point, but it’s not expected just yet.”
One driver who may continue with Oldfield next season is James Scott-Murphy, who capped his second season at the team with a 12th place finish at the Walter Hayes Trophy this month.
“I’d love to keep James in the team. He’s a brilliant young lad, very confident in his own ability,” said Oldfield.
“I know he’s working on stuff for next year with us. We’re working as best we can to get him in the car again because it’s good to keep consistency flowing.
“We’ll see what happens, there’s a long way to go in the winter yet.”