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McLaren signs 13-year-old American karter

Ugo Ugochukwu, a 13-year-old go-karting star from the U.S.A., has signed a long-term deal with McLaren to develop his career through the junior categories of motorsport.

Ugochukwu started karting in New York State in 2013 and last year won the 2020 FIA OKJ European karting championship. The deal gives McLaren an option on his services in the future in exchange for support in junior categories.

“I’m honoured to be signed by such an iconic team as McLaren Racing so early in my career,” Ugochukwu said. “To have the support of McLaren is fantastic and what any young driver dreams of.

“I’m focused right now on developing as a driver and racer, so having McLaren by my side can only help me on and off the track.”

McLaren has a long history funding the path of young drivers to Formula One.

It’s most famous junior signing was Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, now a seven times world champion, who was backed by the Woking team and Mercedes from the age of 13 and made his F1 debut in 2007.

“Ugo is a promising young talent with strong development prospects,” McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said. “While he is still early in his career, it is clear he has the ingredients to be successful in the sport.

“This signing reflects our refocused approach to identifying and supporting new talent, away from a formal young driver programme to a more tailored basis.”

Ugochukwu won a series of karting titles in the U.S.A. between 2014 and 2018 before moving his attention to racing in Europe in 2019.

This year he will compete in the OK Senior class in Europe.

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