No longer content with simply recruiting new talent when they're ready, young driver training programs are becoming increasingly vital to a racing team's success and continuity. But while most of those programs are run by Formula One teams like Red Bull and Ferrari, this time it's Aston Martin that's set up a network of its own.

The British automaker, as any endurance racing fan will tell you, has a robust motorsports program, including works entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nürburgring 24 Hours, to say nothing of the privateer teams it supports in other series around the world. And to feed it with new talent, it has launched the Evolution Academy.

Designed for up-and-coming drivers between the ages of 17 and 25, the Aston Martin Evolution Academy will be limited to ten participants each season. Each trainee will be assigned a veteran professional racing driver from the Aston Martin Racing roster, get seat-time in Aston's simulator, and will be coached in everything from fitness and nutrition to marketing and sponsor recruitment.

At the end of the program, the top of the class will be offered a contract to race full-time with the company, which would be a pretty plum assignment for any sports racing driver. The announcement was made at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, where Aston is showcasing its various Vantage-based racers.
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ASTON MARTIN RACING LAUNCHES LANDMARK EVOLUTION ACADEMY

7 January 2015, Gaydon: Aston Martin Racing is launching a young driver programme, the Evolution Academy, which offers a coveted 2016 Aston Martin Racing works driver contract to the most successful participant of the season.

The academy, being launched at the Autosport International Show, is open to applications from drivers aged 17-25 competing in an Aston Martin racing car this season. It has been devised by the Banbury-based team to help support and develop young talent, as well as creating a breeding ground for Aston Martin Racing works drivers of the future.

Successful applicants, limited to a maximum of ten, will be assigned a professional mentor from Aston Martin Racing's team of top GT drivers. In addition, they will be given fitness and nutrition assessments and advice; PR, marketing and sponsorship support; training sessions in an Aston Martin Base Performance Simulator; and Evolution Academy-branded apparel including a race suit and team kit.

At the end of the season, the most successful participant will be offered an Aston Martin Racing works driver contract for 2016.

Applicants will be asked to send in a CV for review by a panel of senior team management including Team Principal John Gaw, who commented: "We've been very supportive of young drivers at Aston Martin Racing for several years now. We had seven young drivers in our team at Spa 24 Hours last year and have signed two young drivers to our works team for the past two years.

"However, this is the first time we have offered a full programme designed specifically to develop some of the sport's top upcoming stars, focusing not just on on-track activities but all areas required to become a successful driver with a long and lucrative career."

Aston Martin Racing competes at the highest level of GT racing, including a works team in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 Hours; and works-supported entries in Blancpain GT Series and other major GT races.

With its full range of GT racing cars ranging from the V8 Vantage GT4 – its entry-level race car aimed at those starting out in a GT career – through to the V12 Vantage GT3 and the V8 Vantage GTE, there is a clear progression path for drivers of any age looking to begin or develop their racing career.

John Gaw added: "At Aston Martin Racing we have a proven track record of taking drivers from a GT4 programme through GT3 to the pinnacle of current GT racing, GTE. The Evolution Academy is a fantastic opportunity for young drivers and we have invested in it because we are confident we can find our future works team drivers this way."

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