Australian teenager Hugh Barter’s international motor(car) racing career begins this weekend as he lines up in the French Formula 4 Championship’s Easter Cup at the historic Nogaro circuit in the South of France with backing from the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy.
The 15-year-old showed the skill that won him the fully funded drive in pre-season testing, being three tenths of a second clear of the field and fastest both days at the official ‘full series’ test.
Barter has completed an intensive testing program at Paul Ricard, Ledenon and Le Mans. This weekend, three races await at the 3.636 kilometre/2.259 mile Nogaro track.*
The Richard Mille Young Talent Academy is the brainchild of renowned talent spotter and driver manager, Nicolas Todt, in association with kart manufacturer, BirelART – with backing from watch manufacturer, Richard Mille. Barter was selected for the Shootout after his performances in Australian karting for Patrizicorse – the official factory team for F1 ace, Daniel Ricciardo’s Ricciardo Kart operation.
The Shootout took place in October and encompassed off-track tests – including mental and physical preparation for international racing competition and facing a panel of team owners, sponsors and other parties to test their media skills before hitting the track. The test took place on the Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit, which was Barter’s first ever opportunity to drive a racecar. Adding to the pressure, the young drivers were met with incredibly wet conditions!
The Melbourne raised driver was deemed to be the best rounded nominee of the group and was awarded the Academy scholarship – a fully funded season in the FFSA Formula 4 Championship.
Through the process to this point, Hugh and his family have quarantined on three separate occasions. In the past week, Hugh, father Chris and mother Natsuke have settled into an apartment in Le Mans.
The Easter Cup at Nogaro provides plenty of track time for Barter and the 15 drivers entered for the opening round, with five test sessions on Good Friday (French time) before practice and qualifying Easter Saturday; two races Easter Sunday and the final race on Easter Monday (see below for start times in Australia).*
French Formula 4 operates with control Mygale Chassis’, Renault Engines and Pirelli Tyres.
HUGH BARTER’S PREVIEW:
“I can’t express how excited I am to be lining up for the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy this weekend at Nogaro for the first time.
“After quarantining when my family and I arrived in France, the last month or so has been quite intense – it was basically straight into testing and training. I’ve got to drive several circuits already and build my skill in the car. Being to three different circuits, we’ve seen plenty of the country during our travels and we’ve now settled in Le Mans.
“The time in quarantine has really helped me focus on having my mind ready to go this weekend.
“Testing ahead of the season has been fantastic so far, especially being fastest against the Formula 4 Championship field – Ledenon is the most technical circuit I’ve ever been on. I’ve really been able to gel with my engineers and the team over the last few weeks of testing.
“I’ve not raced cars before, so that is going to have its own challenges, however the training provided in the leadup to this weekend by the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy has been very thorough.
“I have to thank Richard Mille and BirelART for having the faith in me to take on this campaign, along with Michael Patrizi, Ricciardo Kart and Patrizicorse who nominated me for the Academy Shootout. My parents also have sacrificed hugely for this adventure, moving across the world so I can go racing and pursue my career objectives.
“We’re looking ahead to hopefully seeing the Australian flag flying high in France.”
Hugh Barter is a young Australian racer who’s been competing in kart racing since he could first legally get behind the wheel at the age of 7.
Born in Nagoya, Japan in 2005 and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Hugh carries both the Australian and Japanese flags in honour of his Australian father and Japanese mother.
He quickly showed aptitude in karting and his easy going, always smiling nature led him to be the first and only junior driver to win the Jason Richards Medal – a ‘best and fairest’ in an Australian racing series in honour of deceased Supercars driver, Jason Richards.
In 2019, he moved to Daniel Ricciardo’s factory Ricciardo Kart operation in Australia, recording several major event wins.
In 2020, he was selected for the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy Shootout – and after the rigorous testing, was declared the winner which sees him line up in the FFSA French Formula 4 Championship.