April 30th 2023 will see the start of a new GAZ Shocks 116 Trophy season, and Rochdale racers Matty Street and Sandro Ballesteros will be pairing up to join the grid for the forthcoming six-round calendar with drivers tested in a team endurance format heading to five iconic UK tracks, including the opening race at the “Home of British Motorsport,”… Silverstone.

Previous Autism hero award winner Sandro was the star of BBC documentary “My Life on the Fast Track”, which followed his journey progressing from karting to cars leading up to his car racing debut at Brands Hatch age just 14. With Mattys’ guidance he raced his first full season in Junior Saloon Car Championship last year, but his long term dream is to race endurance in the Le Mans 24hr.

Over the winter break Sandro has been working hard on the next step towards his goal, upgrading his Junior Saxo to a One Series BMW and preparing to join the 116 grid as their youngest driver, just two weeks after his sixteenth birthday. He unveiled the new livery at Matty’s indoor karting venue TeamKarting in Rochdale, while hosting one of his regular Autism Friendly karting evenings.

Ballesteros is hoping to put the skills gained through his ten years of karting experience to good use, which saw him compete all over the country in Bambino, Cadet, and then ending his kart racing in Junior class, where he claimed the first UK podium for X-Kart before moving to cars.

He has also raced with Matty before as part of the #RacingWithAutismUK kart team at various events including a 24hour race, and Sandro races online too, regularly driving multiple two and three hour stints as part of a team.



I’m really buzzing about the season alongside Matty, as he’s pretty much like an older brother to me,” he said, explaining that he so excited about the new challenge of competing in the 116 Trophy.

He’s an amazing driver, and was also my tutor for my ARDS test, helping me out a lot, plus his BMW 116 was the first car I ever drove, so I can constantly learn with someone I can really trust.”

Endurance racing is the direction I want to take, and it’s going to be a big challenge to race a totally different car, in a longer race format. I’m putting in a lot of time on the sim, along with an exercise program, which includes neck training”

AKO Ambassador Matty Street has already had proven success in racing, especially with Team BRIT in the Britcar Endurance Championship Trophy class in previous years, and makes a welcome return to competitive action this year.

Along with his current workload that includes owning and running a successful UK karting team in the form of X-Kart, the Team Karting indoor facility in Rochdale plus many other projects, he is very much looking forward to getting back in a race suit to compete at some great tracks.

To be honest, I am just really happy that I’ve gotten another chance to get back behind the wheel. It has been a lot of hard work to get back into this.,” Matty admitted, as he’s also pleased to be partnering up with Sandro.

The excitement is climbing up another level as we get closer to the beginning of the season. We’ve known each other for so long, and it felt like the perfect fit for us to get to race together as a team.”

Sandro and his family have also worked so hard to get to this stage of his career as a racerThe fact that this is now happening just is testament to all those long days and weekends away racingI’m just so proud of what he’s done so far.

Stay tuned for further news as it happens about this dynamic duo teaming up for a great season.

2023 GAZ Shocks 116 Trophy Calendar:

30/04/2023 – Silverstone National

21/05/2023 – Brands Hatch Indy

25/06/2023 – Croft

30/07/2023 – Snetterton

20/08/2023 – Silverstone International

07/10/2023 – Oulton Park


Wishing Sandro a Happy 16th Birthday from all at AnnaKennedyonline

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