A 16-year old from Bridgwater in Somerset has competed in an endurance karting event as part of Team ‘Racing with Autism’ (RWA).

On Sunday 8th December, Sylvain Vessier joined Team RWA in the Buckmore Park 6-Hour Endurance karting race.

The team was formed by Team BRIT, a team of disabled drivers, that aims to be the first all-disabled team to compete in the Le Mans 24 hour. Sylvain joined two of Team BRIT’s drivers who live with autism – 22-year-old Matty Street and 20-year old Bobby Trundley, along with 15-year-old Jack Ferguson and 20-year-old Reece Harris.

Standing at the back is Reece, then l-r is Bobby, Jack, Matty and Sylvain. Credit: Bertrand Vessier

Each of the drivers have found that racing helps them cope with the challenges that autism poses. Team BRIT Principal Dave Player formed Team RWA earlier this year, as an off-shoot of Team BRIT, to provide young drivers with autism with competitive karting opportunities.

Sylvain was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 14, having displayed symptoms of autism since the age of four. He has been karting for three years and races in the Senior Max Championship, gaining several novice trophies in his first races. He also took part in a Formula Renault test drive at Magny Cours in France this August.

The team lined up as part of a grid of 35 karts, with a very wet start to the race. The light weight of the younger drivers gave them a slight disadvantage on the slippery track, as they worked to keep the kart planted on the ground, but each of them pushed through and delivered against the odds during their stints. Jack suffers from severe arthritis, which was worsened by the cold conditions, but this did not deter him from giving his all for over an hour of racing.

Facing tough conditions, the team finished in an incredible 7th place out of 35, despite completing an extra pit stop, finishing only four laps behind the leaders and a full lap ahead of their closest contenders.

Sylvain said, “I was honoured to be asked to drive with Team RWA again. It was my first time driving at Buckmore track so was a really exciting challenge and a great end to 2020.”

Team BRIT and Team RWA driver Matty Street explains, “This was a fantastic event – a real challenge for all of us – but a race in which we were determined to give everything.

“Some of our drivers are young, slight, and facing a number of challenges, but the determination they show on track is really incredible. We know that when we start a race we are seen as the underdogs, but by the end – we’ve shown what we’re capable of, and that’s exactly what happened at Buckmore Park.”

Further information on Team BRIT is available at www.teambrit.co.uk.

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