The Westwood youth driver Jochem Van Snelheid has secured a drive in the Formula Virtual series for the 2016 season, Westwood have announced. After confirming the signing of a contract, it was presumed he (Jochem) would take on the test driver role, with British drivers Will Hoskins and Lewis Ellington both having been re-signed for next season.
However, in a turn of events, Jochem will drive, but not for Westwood. Instead, he will be sitting in the cockpit of a DS Mathershaw Technology car, with Westwood and Mathershaw having agreed a loan deal for the young driver. When asked about the next season, Jochem had this to say:
"Well when we finalised the contract with Westwood, I was convinced I'd just be testing for them. But about a week later the boss gave me a ring, and said there's a good chance I'd be driving next year. One thing lead to another and the deal was signed, and I'm super excited for next year. This is a great opportunity and I plan to make the most of it, and I look forward to working with Mathershaw and DS Automobiles for the next year."
Harry Westwood, Team Principal of Westwood Racing, added:
"When Robert contacted me saying he was interested in one of my drivers for 2016, I presumed he meant Will or Lewis. I was stunned when he asked for Jochem, but I hold the belief that he can flourish at Mathershaw. I'm happy for the lad, and the team will, of course, still be supporting him all the way through the season."
And head of Mathershaw Tech, Robert Mathershaw, was also happy to give his piece on the deal:
"As we have been discussing the future with DS Automobiles, we have seen the need to make changes to ensure we can develop to the next level as a team and get to the summit of Formula Virtual. It may therefore seem counterintuitive to take a rookie from another team on a one year loan deal, but we firmly believe Jochem is one of the greatest talents of his generation. Harry is a great mentor and manager to his drivers, and we are sure that will help Jochem in his first foray into the world of FV. Welcome on board."
Present at the conference were team Principals Harry Westwood and Robert Mathershaw, as well as Jochem Van Snelheid and the head of DS motorsport. This is certainly a drastic turn of events, which leaves the Liverpool drivers Simon and Beckenbauer fighting for their places in the team next year. It's a huge gamble from the English team, but only time will tell if it pays off.