THE NEXT Lewis Hamilton could come from the Isle of Wight, thanks to a successful youth race academy run by WightKarting.

The Ryde-based business taught almost 300 young drivers through its Adrenaline Junkie programme for school groups, young Islanders, and holidaymakers.

The scheme teaches the foundation skills of motorsport, and 70 of the 297 participants completed all five levels.

The Adrenaline Junkie programme was designed around the principle that kart racing is the best and safest way for young people to learn the disciplines of the motorsport industry.

The programme, taught by Connor Gudgin at the Ryde track, takes place in five levels, from learning about motorsport safety to improving lap times and reaching the top of the leaderboard.

Once the children reach the top level, they can graduate from the smaller cadet and junior karts, and move into the adult karts for faster race times.

To celebrate the success of the graduates, the track held a Young Racers F1 race in September for drivers aged between eight to 11 years old.

The 16 racers went head-to-head in a series of racing styles. The winners were Harrison Crickmore, 11, who won the cadets' race in the junior karts, and Jack Goring, 13, who won the juniors' race in the adult karts.

Course leader Connor said: "We're really happy that these young people have had the chance to take part in this scheme.

"They all really love coming to the track and learning from the staff here. Their confidence builds so much, and their track times improve with every drive.

"It is something I would really recommend for children who might not be interested in typical sports like football or rugby."

Cathy Foulkes, WightKarting owner, said: "Developing young people through fun activities and building their skill sets and confidence is really important.

"When you look at most of the Formula 1 greats, you can see they started their journeys in karts, so we're always on the lookout for the next Lewis Hamilton on our track."