It never ceases to amaze me how well our exported talent continues to perform on the international stage. Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen’s impressive drives at the opening round of the V8 Supercars Championship were a stand out in what’s been a great month for New Zealand’s international stars.
Coulthard secured his sixth win in the series, at the same time as the Black Caps knocked off the Australian cricket team at Eden Park – can both go the distance? Van Gisbergen got good news off the track, with a place on the McLaren GT factory team.
Meanwhile, Richie Stanaway (Aston Martin Racing) and Mitch Evans (Jota Sport) recently announced they’ll join Porsche drivers Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley on the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Stanaway has also posted consistently fast times during GP2 pre-season testing, and is awaiting word from his Status Grand Prix team on whether or not he’ll join Evans in the Formula One feeder category.
Closer to home, Christchurch-born youngster Tom Alexander won his first national title with victory in the Toyota Finance 86 Championship. Targeting a drive in next year’s Toyota Racing Series, he’s one to watch.
As summer circuit racing comes to an end, motorsport fans can enjoy watching Hayden Paddon and John Kennard on rally’s biggest stage. The pair had a tough time at the latest round in Mexico, but showed good fighting spirit to finish 17th in tough conditions. Currently the only Kiwis racing in the WRC, it might not be long before they’re joined by Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Production Cup winner Michael Young, who is hoping to follow in Paddon’s footsteps.
The 22-year-old from Opotiki has been invited to take part in the M-Sport run Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta Trophy. It’s a great opportunity for Michael if he can get the necessary funding, with a full WRC2 drive in 2016 up for grabs.
While they take care of business overseas, our local talent is gearing up for the domestic season, which kicks off in Whangarei in April.
American superstar Ken Block is making a one-off appearance and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. He’ll be going head-to-head with some of our best, as Emma Gilmour, Richard and Sara Mason, Ben Hunt, David Holder and others all eye the championship.
Elsewhere, clubsport continues to thrive across the country, with the Championship in Pukekohe attracting a small but enthusiastic field of competitors. Congratulations are due to Paul Walbran, whose consistent pace saw him crowned the winner of the 2015 ClubSport Championship.
The National Hillclimb series is going from strength-to-strength, which is great to see. The final round in Waimate last weekend attracted a strong field, with Blenheim’s Neil Webb taking home the silverware.
The rejuvenated Race to the Sky shakes down in April. Officially the world’s longest gravel hill climb, it’d be great to see this internationally recognised event a regular fixture on our calendar, and I’m looking forward to seeing who’ll conquer the mountain this time round!
Finally, applications for the 2015 Elite Motorsport Academy closed on Friday and we received a good number of entries. Successful applicants will be announced at our AGM in May and I wish them all the best of luck.
Monster returns to defend mountain Click here for full story
Every second will count in competitive NZRC Click here for full story
Paddon’s Mexican melodrama Click here for full story
Kiwis eye V8 Supercars Championship Click here for full story
Alexander crowned TR86 champion Click here for full story
Webb wins Hillclimb Championship Click here for full story
Ladies’ fast fun Click here for full story