Another year is drawing to an end, and it has certainly been a fantastic one for NZ motorsport. It’s hard to recall when we’ve had so many promising drivers, across so many classes, doing us proud both at home and on the world stage.
In just the past week, two big announcements have come from Earl Bamber and Hayden Paddon on their plans for 2015. Congratulations to Earl, who’s been signed to the Porsche factory team. This caps a remarkable year for the 24-year-old from Wanganui, who became not only the first New Zealander, but also the first rookie of any country to win the International Porsche Supercup Championship.
Hayden’s star continues to rise. After several consistent performances in his debut WRC season, the Geraldine native has accepted an extended contract with Hyundai Motorsport. He’ll compete in at least nine rallies, giving him a wider scope of experience and further chances to build on the solid start he made last year. A second offer from Citroen also on the table bears testament to the 27-year-old’s talent and promise; no doubt he’ll keep going from strength to strength.
We’ve had more young guns making us proud across the ditch, too. Congratulations to Shane van Gisbergen, who snared the final round of the V8 Supercars in Sydney to claim second place in the series. Twenty-year-old Scott McLaughlin also had an extraordinary year, finishing in fifth place, with ten pole positions – equal with overall champion Jamie Whincup – and became the first Kiwi to win the Barry Sheene medal for best and fairest.
More of our up-and-comers showcase their talent in the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) this summer, against some of the world’s best young competitors. Leading the charge for the Kiwis are returning drivers James Munro (Christchurch) and Damon Leitch (Invercargill), and expect big things from debutant Jamie Conroy, who’s graduating from his stellar year in Formula Ford. All eyes will be on the culmination of the series in February – the NZGP at Manfeild.
Joining the TRS for its first round at Ruapuna in January is MSNZ’s other championship classes, which are already under way. Jason Bargwanna (Toyota) and Kevin Williams (Holden) lead the TLX series and TL championship respectively, while Ashley Blewett holds a narrow advantage in the Toyota Finance 86 Championship, as does Caleb Cross in Formula Fords.
Many of these names are graduates of our Elite MotorSport Academy – a programme designed for teaching our top talent the skills to make it all the way. Applications for next year’s class are open - for more information, please click here.
There’s plenty of motorsport to see over summer; wherever you are, from everyone at MSNZ, we wish you safe travels and a very merry Christmas and look forward to sharing our exciting Sport again in 2015.
Best of NZ motorsport; what the media says Click here for full story
NZ volunteers win V8 Supercars award Click here for full story
Hyundai awards Paddon new contract Click here for full story
TRS star power for 2015 Click here for full story
Van Gisbergen snatches second Click here for full story
Featherstone continues winning ways Click here for full story