Formula First stars selected for Elite Motorsport Academy

Three Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First front-runners from past and present have been selected to participate in New Zealand’s world-class Elite Motorsport Academy programme for 2018.

The Elite Motorsport Academy is managed by the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust and run by specialist tutors from Academy of Sport South Island and the University of Otago’s School of Physical Education’s Human Performance Centre.

The year-long programme for eight participants commences with a ‘camp’ in Dunedin in July where the participants learn a wide array of skills and techniques to aid their mental and physical fitness as a motorsport competitor, as well as the sponsorship and marketing, nutrition and media skills needed to succeed in the sport. The programme also provides a twelve-month follow-up package tailored for each participant to ensure they retain and further develop the training regimes and educational opportunities demonstrated during the camp.

Wayne Christie, MotorSport NZ President and a trustee of the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust, says when reviewing applications, the five trustees look at the applicant’s determination and resources to make motorsport a career.

“This year, we saw a very high standard achieved by the applicants who reached the interview stage of the application process, in terms of their conduct and current racing skills. We stress to them that the Academy is another form of competition and encourage the successful applicants to push themselves throughout the year-long Academy programme. Everything counts – just as it would if a competitor approaches teams and sponsors – from their initial application form, to personal presentation and conduct, and interview capabilities.”

A member of the Manawatu Car Club, Callum Crawley has twice contested one of New Zealand’s key introductory motor racing series, the Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First Championship. Last season, he took sixth overall and was the second-placed championship rookie. This season finished in early April with Crawley showing great consistency throughout the eight-round series to win the championship. The Palmerston North Boys High School student is looking at with the competitive one-make Toyota TR86 series or continue in single seaters with the NZ F1600 Championship for this summer’s race season.

Having started in karts, Billy Frazer also contested the 2017-18 Formula First series, the Pukekohe teen finishing fifth on the championship points-table in his first full season of motor racing. The Kings College student is planning on two years in the Toyota TR86 Championship next, and then contest New Zealand’s premier open-wheeler championship, the Toyota Racing Series.

Like many of his Academy classmates, Matthew Podjursky started in karts – at age 7 and becoming a two-time national title winner. The former New Plymouth Boys High School student then spent three seasons racing in the NZ Formula First Championship where he finished a close second in the 2016/17 season with 20 podium finishes in eight rounds. He also contested his first year in ‘tin tops’, racing a class two Falcon in the BNT V8s Championship. In what he describes as a big season of learning as a rookie, Podjursky scored five race podium and two round podiums. Now an apprentice automotive technician, he aims to win the class two V8 title this coming summer and look at GT racing in the future.

Christie says the Academy programme is reviewed each year by the trustees and the Otago Academy of Sport. “We want to ensure we are doing the very best for each person who attends. Last year, for example, we added elements specific to the rally co-drivers who attended. We’ve amended several times the training around data analysis as the sport requires a greater understanding of these technical tools available to drivers and engineers. In what is a very intense week for participants, we constantly assess and adjust the balance of physical and mental training elements included in each of the days.

Christie also says the trustees and trainers can be justly proud of the programme which is highly-regarded around the world. “Our programme is well regarded by the FIA and many other motorsporting countries around the world. No one else has a programme like us, mostly being shorter and costing a substantial fee to attend. Our Academy programme is unique in that it is a year-long programme and provided at no cost to the participants. The value isn’t solely monetary; how do you place a value on the skills a driver or co-driver can gain from some of the world’s very best sporting tutors, the contacts and networking, and the opening of doors to new opportunities through the Academy.

“Many other sporting codes in New Zealand do not have anything like the Elite Motorsport Academy, and as a sport, we can be proud of the fact we offer our talented competitors this unique opportunity to better prepare themselves for a career in motorsport. The trustees appreciate the support we receive from our benefactors to ensure we can maintain the Academy to this high standard.

“We look forward to seeing the class of 2018 to use the tools and skills learned during the Academy to represent themselves well at home and offshore in their future motorsport endeavours.”

This year’s Elite Motorsport Academy programme gets underway with the camp in Dunedin running 1 to 7 July.

New Zealand’s Elite Motorsport Academy first ran in 2004 with race drivers Nelson Hartley, Christina Orr, Chris Pither and Tim Edgell among the selected participants that year. Since then, many academy graduates have forged successful international careers such as Shane van Gisbergen, Brendon Hartley, Hayden Paddon, Earl Bamber and Mitch Evans. Other national motorsport governing bodies have consulted the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust on the programme’s format and goals to assist the development of their own driver development programmes. Follow the Elite Motorsport Academy on Facebook.

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