Youngest competitor joins Class I

Nineteen year-old Tom Barry-Cotter steps into a Class 1 cockpit.

Nineteen year-old Tom Barry-Cotter will become the youngest competitor to step into a Class 1 cockpit for over a decade. He will make his international driving debut alongside Norwegian, Pal Virik Nilsen in the Greek Grand Prix in Paleo Faliro, Athens on Sunday, 10 June. It will be newest Class I team and run under the Spirit of Norway flag.

The young Australian, son of former Class 1 racer and Grand Prix winner, Bill Barry-Cotter, made his Class 1 racing debut in the Australian Powerboat series in 2006 alongside his father. He won two races grabbing two podiums to finish second overall in the championship and this season notched up his third race win.

“I have been given an exceptional opportunity to enable me to make my debut in Class 1 internationally as part of the Spirit of Norway team and I am extremely grateful to many people, in particular Bjorn Gjelsten,” said Tom. “The start of this season is a learning curve and the time for Pal and me to get used to each other and the boat, and for me to get used to the closer European style of racing. At this stage we are aiming to be reliable and consistent throughout the season.”

The new outfit, run as a separately managed team, is the initiative of Bjorn Rune Gjelsten in partnership with Barry-Cotter.

“This is something I have been planning for some time,” said Gjelsten. “I wanted to invest in the future of Class 1 and to recruit some young pilots. I had thought of an all-Norwegian line-up but talked to Bill and found the perfect situation to bring Tom into the team with Pal. We have two young and talented racers but do not expect overnight success. They have to learn to race and work with each other, hopefully listen to some pointers from Steve and myself but we do expect they will be competitive.”

The youngest pairing in Class 1 will run as Spirit of Norway 20, in a Michael Peters designed Tencara hull, the former championship winning boat of Gjelsten and Curtis, with Mercury 9.1litre V8s. “This season will be very interesting for me and my new team and I am very happy to join the very professional Spirit of Norway Team and also exited to take the throttleman job,” said Pal who raced last season for Giorgioffshore. “This is a new challenge for me so things must go step by step. I hope to learn some tips and tricks from one of the best throttlemen in the world, Steve Curtis and I am looking forward to forming a great partnership with Tom.”


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