Q&A with Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw

Q&A with Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw

24 September 2021

The Hillspeed team has operated in the UK’s premier single-seater championship, GB3, since its inception as BRDC F4 in 2013. Since then it’s taken podiums finishes in every full season its competed in, and several wins too.

Hillspeed celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and will expand into GB4 for 2022. We caught up with Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw, who has given career opportunities to drivers including Seb Morris, Tom Ingram and Alice Powell among others in the last decade alone, to discuss the benefits GB4 will bring to his team.

GB4: Richard, Hillspeed are one of the first teams to have signed up to the GB4 Championship, what has appealed to you about the series?

Richard Ollerenshaw: “The launch of the GB4 Championship provides the opportunity for young racers to drive a very modern single-seater racecar at an extremely sensible price point.

“MSVR understands the need for a cost effective single-seater championship that is accessible to many young drivers wishing to pursue a career in open-wheel cars, but who don’t have the financial resources to make the first step into FIA Formula 4.”

GB4: What sort of interest have you received from prospective drivers?

RO: “We’ve received considerable interest in GB4 and, had we had cars available, then we would already be out testing. I think there is a very good pool of drivers who want to want to make the transition into modern single-seaters. Unfortunately, the perceived high costs and the lack of the correct championship before now has previously stopped this from happening. It now looks like several drivers are re-evaluating their options for 2022 and will get the opportunity to drive an open-wheel car. Overseas drivers are already eyeing GB4 as a very attractive option as there is nothing similar being operated in the vast majority of the major motorsport countries.”

GB4: How much benefit will GB4 bring to young drivers?

RO. “Huge. The car was originally selected by the FIA as the first rung in its motorsport ladder and it really is a first-rate car. It provides the driver everything that they need to learn the principals of single-seater racing without making it overly complicated. At Hillspeed we are known for providing an excellent Driver Development Programme, this ensures that our drivers have the solid foundations on which they can build a career in motorsport. The GB4 championship is what we as a team have been waiting for.”

GB4: Do you envisage that GB4 competitors will stay with Hillspeed as they climb the ranks into GB3?

RO: “We obviously hope so. For this reason we are offering our GB4 drivers a test in the GB3 car at the end of the 2022 season. We will also provide our highest placed GB4 driver a financial graduation bonus to assist them to move up the motorsport ladder with Hillspeed, keeping fantastic continuity.”

GB4: Are you looking forward to the challenge of running cars for two championships across each weekend?

“I wouldn’t say that it’s so much of a challenge, as long as you have prepared accordingly. As a team you need to ensure that you have everything in place from the moment you decide to run two programmes. This relates to having sufficient high-quality staff and the necessary workshop facilities to ensure the cars can be prepared and maintained to the highest possible standard. We will be adding to our staff numbers over the winter so we are ready for the 2022 season.”

GB4: Finally, Hillspeed has a very strong history having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The team is open about expanding its interests going forward, so how key to the future of the team is the expansion into GB4?

RO: “It’s certainly been a long-standing desire to expand the existing operations of Hillspeed, but there simply wasn’t anything to get involved with. We wanted a single-seater championship that could be used to feed drivers into our GB3 squad. It had to be sensibly priced with regard to the initial purchase costs of the cars and ultimately what the budget would be for the drivers. The biggest problem is that the GB3 Championship is so well priced for what you get, slotting in a level below this was practically impossible. However, with MSVR utilising the foundations of GB3 (85% same car, same spares, same operational tools/equipment) to create the GB4 Championship, the team’s start-up costs are significantly reduced which, in turn, can be passed on to the customer.”

For more information about the Hillspeed team, visit their new website www.hillspeed.co.uk.