Racing talent to train in UK

SPEEDY FUTURE: Sisa Ngebulana junior has been accepted by the McLaren Youth Development Programme in England Picture: SUPPLIED
SPEEDY FUTURE: Sisa Ngebulana junior has been accepted by the McLaren Youth Development Programme in England Picture: SUPPLIED
Sisa Ngebulana junior so far may be known as the son of his more famous father – property mogul and owner of the Billion Group Sisa Ngebulana senior – but the youngster is forging his own path, having caught the eye of top racing talent scouts in the UK.

Ngebulana junior, who was a Squadra Corse Junior Rok kart racing driver, was selected last year to attend the prestigious McLaren Youth Development Programme (YDP) in England, which aims to nurture young racing talent and turn them into world class drivers able to succeed at the highest level of motor sport.

“I was called up to the young driver programme by the McLaren Performance Academy last year, and it went very well. We learnt a lot about different aspects to race car driving,” said Ngebulana junior.

“I was pleasantly surprised to re-join this year as one of four from last year’s group of 18.”

He left for the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England, just over two weeks ago, where he will be provided with accurately-graded physical training, nutritional programmes and career information such as contractual guidance, media and PR improvement tools.

“My manager and I have been looking at these as dreams and always an outside factor but now that’s its rolling out in front of me, the dreams are becoming more than a reality – let’s say a target,” said Ngebulana.

The McLaren YDP is renowned for nurturing world class racing talent, the most famous being current Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who joined the programme at the age of 13 as a kart racer before working his way up the ladder and eventually racing in his first F1 race in 2007 and claiming his first world title in 2008.

Young and up coming McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen is also a product of the impressive course and adds credence to its already strong heritage.

Ngebulana will find himself rubbing shoulders with some of the best junior racing talent in the world, including Formula Renault 2.0 rookie of the year, Nyck de Vries, Eurocup Formula Renault 2012 champion Stoffel Vandoorne and current Formula Renault 2.0 champion Ben Barnicoat.

“I’m a couple of years – or rather a couple million seat miles – behind some of my peers but going into Formula 4 equals the playing field a little,” claimed Ngebulana.

Racing alongside and against established up-and-coming drivers can only improve the already recognised young man, who can now look to both his short- and long-term goals.

“I will be looking to understand where we are in single seaters. The BRDC F4 series is a tough and new experience and we want to first be in the top 10 and build from there.

“Long-term I want to become a professional driver, preferably winning championships in F1.”

Ngebulana’s father was born in East London and raised in Mthatha, and the family still has strong links to the area.

He developed and still owns Mdantsane City and Hemingways Mall, while Baywest City in Port Elizabeth and BT Ngebs City in Mthatha are current projects scheduled to open in a month or two.