Motoring experts are leading the hunt for the UK’s best young driver – but, unusually, the entrants must be under the legal driving age of 17.

The Young Driver Challenge 2019 is searching for Essex’s best drivers who are aged 10 to 16.

Vicki Butler-Henderson and Quentin Willson, who have both been presenters on ‘Fifth Gear’ and ‘Top Gear’, will be hosting a national final to discover who is the best in the UK.

The Young Driver Challenge is run by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons.

The scheme aims to develop a safer next generation of young drivers, by extending their learning over a longer period.

The Young Driver Challenge 2019 is open to anyone aged from 10 to 16, and entries can be made during lessons at any of Young Driver’s 60 venues, including Lakeside, Chelmsford Racecourse and Colchester United FC before July 15.

Drivers will be marked on their driving skills and abilities, with the 40 top scorers from across the country then being invited to the national final at the NEC on September 7.

At the NEC, finalists will be split into two categories, 10 to 13s and 14 to 16s, before competing in a number of driving challenges, including manoeuvring a slalom, undertaking different types of parking, controlling an emergency brake and confidently tackling independent driving.

The challenge encourages youngsters to consider responsible and safe driving, with top marks given to those who show the best levels of control and awareness.

Prizes up for grabs for the winners include £200, 10 one-hour Young Driver lessons, family restaurant vouchers and signed copies of Quentin Willson’s latest book.


Vicki said: “I strongly believe in getting behind the wheel as soon as possible.

"You don’t have to aim for a career as a driver - just learning early will be a huge benefit and gives you the time getting to grips with the necessary skills. I can’t wait to see what the finalists can do on the day. It should be lots of fun.”

Quentin added: “Research shows that early driving tuition has a significant positive effect on novice driver behaviours and attitudes to road safety.

"The Young Driver Challenge celebrates and rewards careful, precise car control. It’s that rare thing - a driving competition where safety wins the race.”

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing for Young Driver, added: “This is our sixth annual Challenge and we’re delighted that this year Vicki and Quentin will be joining us at the final as hosts.

"The skill some of these young drivers show is staggering, and it’s reassuring to see how seriously they take being behind the wheel.

"They have fun and come away beaming, but at the same time they’re absorbing important safety messages and learning how to do a lot of the mechanical side of driving before they’re anywhere near a real road.”