Local schoolboy Sam Scharer aged just 10 from Ysgol Bro Gwydir School, Llanrwst, Conwy, has won a nationwide competition to design a striking livery for a rally car.
The resulting Toyota GT86 sportscar wrapped in Scharer’s prize-winning sea-themed design was publicly unveiled in Llandudno on the eve of this year’s Wales Rally GB, the UK’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Adding to the occasion, the covers were pulled off by Toyota GAZOO Racing WRC star Kris Meeke, one of the pre-event favourites for victory this weekend. The multiple WRC round winner was joined by Gwenllian Roberts, the Welsh Government’s Chief Regional Officer for North Wales.
Scharer, whose striking patriotic design was selected from hundreds of entries in the UK-wide competition was also present to savour the special occasion. He first saw the embodiment of his design earlier in the week when the GT86 visited his school where it drew admiration from both staff and students.
“It’s just amazing to see the car,” enthused a delighted Sam. “I have always loved cars and really like sea, so I just put the two together. It’s awesome to have Kris Meeke here and I love the model car. It will go on my shelf in my bedroom next to the Ferrari I have.”
“We are all incredibly proud,” said Acting Headteacher Aron Jones. “Obviously Sam is the big, big winner but as a school we are also winners as we get to see this fantastic design that Sam has created on the Toyota. To have it here with us at the school in Llanrwst was just unbelievable. It’s a fantastic competition getting Sam and hundreds of other young people excited by design, engineering and technology curriculum subjects – all that goes into a sport such as Wales Rally GB.”
The GT86 – kindly provided by Toyota – will remain on show over the weekend in the free-to-enter ‘Big Bang’ Industry Awareness STEM exhibition based in Venue Cymru, Llandudno.
Located alongside the WRC pits and paddock complex, where all the competing Wales Rally GB teams are located, the Big Bang showcases a wide range of companies who specialise in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects), inspiring more than 1500 visiting students from educational establishments throughout Wales.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “I’m really pleased to see the Welsh Government’s Engineering Education Scheme help inspire one of our budding Welsh engineers! A huge congratulations to Sam – to win the competition was quite an achievement, but to see the design come to life as part of the FIA World Rally Championship really is something special. Well done Sam!”
The competition was a joint initiative between the rally organisers Motorsport UK, Toyota and the Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) on behalf of the Welsh Government, and was open to all primary, secondary schools and colleges in the UK.
The partnership with Toyota is very apt as the Japanese manufacturer won the 2018 World Rally Championship for Manufacturers and its top gun Ott Tänak leads this year’s Drivers’ Championship.
“This is a pretty cool design!” said Meeke, two times winner of Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship. “It’s really nice to see something like this on the Toyota”.
“He has captured the theme of Wales Rally GB perfectly, especially with the fish design on the roof, it looks like we could be seeing some of those out on the stages this weekend, but that’s what it’s all about, Sam has done a great job”.