Congratulations to Tom Canning for securing the 2019 AMR Academy top prize

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Just short of a full calendar year since making his GT audition on the world stage at the Gulf 12Hr from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in a new era of turbo charged Vantage race cars , today saw Aston Martin Racing finally declare Tom Canning as the winner of their Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy intake of 2019.

Following in the near footsteps of the Academy's 2015 winner Ross Gunn, Canning was also successful in an AMR Vantage GT4 winning the British GT GT4 Championship this year alongside co-driver and GT debutant Ash Hand in the #97 TF Sport car before being named as Gunn's successor in todays announcement.

This years Academy process was another year long process of constant measurement and elevation for the twenty three drivers (all aged between 17 and 25) who originally entered the process at the start of the season. Todays announcement would have been the result of lots of hard personal input, personal performance evaluation (both on and off track), data crunching, media abilities together with a large dose of personal opinion from the three Academy judges concerned.

Speaking with Canning as he and Hand enjoyed further prizes from their GT4 Championship winnings by testing a TF Sport AMR Vantage GT3 at Snetterton a few weeks ago, he explained just how rigorous the process had been was as well as (co-incidentally) starting something that his new role will demand of him by introducing and coaching fresh driver candidates as they sampled the new Vantage GT4 for the first time as they evaluated their own plans for next season at the same event.

What will come as a significant help for the seventeen year old will be the financial assistance now being given to him from the factory for his next season of racing having told me just how much of his family's disposable income had already been invested into this season's efforts.

As well as the financial side he will now benefit from the factory's continued driver coaching and development opportunities that Gunn has so far exclusively enjoyed, things that have finally allowed him to step up to the top step with a full season World Endurance Championship commitment this year with Paul Dalla Lana and Darren Turner as well as fitness and simulator time and a snazzy TAG Heuer watch!

“To be chosen to be a part of the Aston Martin Racing Academy was a privilege and I have definitely benefited from all of their support during 2019,” said Canning, who took this year’s British GT4 title alongside TF Sport co-driver fellow Academy class-mate Ash Hand, having won at Spa and collected three second places along the way. “Simulator training, coaching at all of the rounds, fitness and media training have all helped me develop as a driver, enabling me to win British GT4. I am excited to become part of the AMR family and look forward to my new role and working closer with the team in 2020 and getting back in the Aston Martin Vantage. Thank you to AMR for the opportunity.”

Aston Martin Racing President David King said: “Tom is clearly a very promising talent, and this shone through in all aspects of his academy training. He approached the programme with maturity and focus and his attitude to the programme was exemplary. He was eager to learn at every opportunity and was frequently found in the engineering office at this year’s Silverstone round of the FIA World Endurance Championship! That he combined all this with a consummate campaign in the British GT Championship shows that he fully deserves the opportunity to become part of the Aston Martin Racing family.”

It will be interesting in the short to immediate term to see whether or not Canning also gets a drive in an AMR Vantage GTE at the Bahrain Rookie test after the next round of the WEC next month (like Gunn was lucky enough to have when he won the top prize) and just how the change in driver ranking from Silver to Gold for both Gunn and Charlie Eastwood for next season will have on his new career path within Aston Martin Racing and their customer teams.

Whatever happens - congratulations Tom for this accolade, thanks for all your help this year and wishing you all the best for next.

In the meantime, should you fit within that age group and be signed up to race anywhere in the world with an AMR Partner or Customer team in a recognisable Series/Championship then you may want to get in touch with AMR about next years Academy intake.  

The Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy, which provides the first step in a multi-year journey to becoming a factory driver, will return in 2020. And, while the full scope of next year’s initiative is still to be confirmed, applications will open from 1 December, 2019. Applicants who have signed agreements for racing in an Aston Martin in 2020 are welcome to submit CVs with covering letters to

Photo credits - AMR / British GT 

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