DETERMINED teenagers are in the driving seat for a big race at Silverstone after being praised by the Deputy First Minister.

The tenacious team from Inverclyde Academy - called the Inver Racers - impressed John Swinney when they showed him the sleek red and black F24 race car they've built from scratch.

The team, who will race their vehicle at an international competition in October, have been taking part in an engineering initiative run by West College Scotland and Developing the Young Workforce.

Speaking to the Tele on a visit to the college's Finnart Street campus, Mr Swinney said: "The Inver Racers project illustrates how the schools and the college can work really closely together and transform opportunities for young people.

"The Inver Racers are four young lads who have developed their skills in engineering through educational activities and design but they have also developed their own personal confidence as a consequence of the project."

The teens - Chris McClure, David MacKinnon, Christopher Arthur and Kyle Knox - were crowned as Scottish champions at the Greenpower Challenge competition in East Fortune, after emerging victorious in the Kit Car category and finishing first in both races against teams from all over Scotland.

They are now invited to race against teams from across the world at the final in Silverstone in October - and are looking for the community's help to get there with fundraising.

Chris McClure, 15, who hopes to emulate the success of F1 star Lewis Hamilton, said it was a boost to have Mr Swinney's support.

He said: "It's brilliant.

"Obviously he's a big part of Scotland so it's really good that he's came down to meet our small team in Greenock."

David, 16, added: "I feel that it's a massive honour that he's taken the time out of his busy work schedule to see a small team like us."

Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, met the Inver Racers in June and was so impressed with the project that he decided to invite Mr Swinney to Greenock to visit them.

He said: "The Inver Racers’ passion for this project is plain to see, and they have done tremendously well to be named Scottish champions.

"I wanted to highlight this brilliant initiative to the Scottish Government."

Bob Davidson, programme director for DYW West Region, says the youngsters are a credit to their school, the college and wider community.

Sabrina McCready, depute head teacher at Inverclyde Academy, says she is proud of the quartet.

She said: "Meeting the Deputy First Minister is the icing on the cake for their project, which has already garnered support from as far away as the USA."

College principal Liz Connolly believes the project will put the boys on the right track for the future.

She said: “This shows how, with imagination and determination, young people can be engaged in engineering and other science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and have fun while learning."

Anyone who would like to support the team's Silverstone bid can do so via their online Just Giving page at