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The 16-year-old racing driver going full throttle

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Matthew Rees is rocketing up the motorsport rankings and is now considered by many as a star in the making.

Whether that means he will be the next Lewis Hamilton remains to be seen, but the 16-year-old from Cardiff has certainly made a fast start off the grid.

Having won the prestigious British Formula 4 Championship title in his rookie season, single-seater racing driver Rees has shown both his talent and potential.

Matthew won races at Donington Park and Snetterton this year, to take a 12-point lead into the final race meeting at Brands Hatch.

After another great performance in his 1.6-litre Ford EcoBoost-powered race car, he wrapped up the title with one round to go.

The Sport Wales-supported driver is now being talked about as a future motorsport superstar – and it’s no wonder, as past winners of the British F4 Championship include none other than McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.

Matthew’s interest in motorsport stems from his grandfather, who used to race Minis and saloon cars.

The schoolboy started competing in 2013, initially kart racing at Llandow before branching out and making a name for himself nationwide.

He headed onto the international stage in the 2018 FIA World Karting Championship, but then stepped back from racing in 2019 when his mother became ill. 

When she recovered, Matthew resumed racing midway through 2020 with the JHR Developments team – familiarising himself with the UK tracks on a simulator, before impressing the squad at a winter test at Pembrey Circuit and securing a race seat for 2021.

Run as a televised support series on the British Touring Car Championship race card, the British F4 Championship is a 30-round series with three races each race weekend, including a reserve grid race.

In a championship where you must keep on top of technical set-up, tactics and race craft whilst among a group of identical 160bhp cars all jockeying for position at over 100mph, Matthew was embroiled in a high-speed dog fight throughout the season.

He scored a maiden F4 race win to lead the drivers’ standings at the halfway point.

Matthew Rees holding the British F4 Trophy pointing his finger to the sky.
Elite Cymru-funded athlete, Matthew Rees with the British F4 Championship trophy

"I'm very proud to be supported by Sport Wales"

The second half of the season was even better, with three more race wins and a total of 10 podium finishes securing Matthew the F4 title at the end of the 29th and penultimate round at Brands Hatch.

“I was delighted to win the British F4 Championship title at my first attempt, because it is such a competitive series,” says Matthew.

“It’s not just the calibre of the drivers, but there are four or five top teams running two or three very good drivers and all of them are capable of winning the title.

“It’s one of the toughest single make championships to win, especially in your rookie year.”

Matthew is also very proud of his Welsh heritage. 

He carries the Welsh flag on his race suit and crash helmet and is extremely appreciative of the support he received from Sport Wales – as well as sponsorship from Advanced Construction Scotland, Cool Performance Racing Simulators and Freezadome.

“I’m very happy to carry the colours of Wales when I race and I’m very proud to be supported by Sport Wales,” he says.

“As a country, Wales has a lot of diversity and excels in so many different sports. It’s nice that motor racing is up there being recognised alongside the likes of rugby, football and athletics.

“All the support I receive is extremely valuable, and the more support I have the more it takes the pressure off my mum and dad, who are, of course, my biggest supporters.”

And like those other sports Matthew mentions, race track athletes must be super fit to perform at the top level in motorsport.

Physical training in the gym is just as important for a racing driver as it is for a track and field athlete. The physical stresses on a driver are huge.

Unlike other sports, however, there are now a huge variety of different career avenues facing Matthew.

His next step is a very important one and he’s wisely not rushing to decide what championship to contest in 2022.

“There are so many options as to what to do next,” says Matthew.

“I could stay in the UK and race in Formula 3, I could go to Europe and race in Formula Renault, or I could go to America and race in Indy Lights.

“It’s such a big decision that we’ll be working on the pros and cons over the winter and make a decision before the end of February.”

So, keep an eye on the fast lane, as Matthew Rees is going places in a hurry.

Matthew Rees is funded by Sport Wales through our Elite Cymru fund.

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