2018/19 NZ Formula First Rookie of the Year Ronan Murphy has topped the points-table following a week-long camp with MotorSport New Zealand’s Elite MotorSport Academy, which is run by the Otago Academy of Sport in Dunedin.
The highly regarded Elite MotorSport Academy is a year-long programme administered by the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust with the Otago Academy of Sport’s top sports tutors. The Academy programme starts with an intensive in-house camp covering a wide array of skills and techniques for mental and physical fitness specific to motorsport competitors, as well as sponsorship and marketing, nutrition and media skills to aid their success in the sport.
During the camp, each competitor was assessed on several aspects of their performance and teamwork, with Murphy gaining the highest number of points. Katrina Renshaw had the second highest total while former NZ Formula First rookie Thomas Boniface was third.
The eight competitors now continue with the rest of the year-long programme with tailored coaching and mentoring to ensure they retain and further develop the training regimes and educational opportunities demonstrated during the camp. They are also assessed on their performance and participation in the follow-up programme, so at the end of the twelve months, the highest points scorer is named the Academy winner, receiving the Ian Snellgrove trophy, presented in memory of long-time MotorSport New Zealand general manager and Academy programme trustee Ian Snellgrove
Murphy, son of Kiwi race star Greg Murphy, says he learned a lot in virtually every workshop, but that the nutrition and hydration information was an aspect he knew very little about and one he feels will make a significant difference for his future competition. “I haven’t had issues as such but felt uncomfortable at times, a bit drowsy, tired in the car before the end of the day. Now I know how much and when I need to be drinking, and that’s why the learning has been so valuable.”
Murphy also mentioned the data analysis (understanding the data captured in a race car and how to translate that to his driving) and mental skills coaching were also particularly valuable. “The way the Academy is run, really early starts and long days, you couldn’t just sit back and do nothing for a few hours. You had to be on to it, get things done, and still get a good nights’ sleep before the next day. That’s a big thing I took out of it – to dig a bit deeper, that’s there’s probably more time in the day than you usually think, to push harder, that’s where my level needs to be in everyday life.”
Palmerston North-based rally co-driver Katrina Renshaw, who was second on points, says: “The Academy has been incredible, above and beyond what I expected coming to this camp. I’ve learned so many skills – nutrition, fitness, so many values I’ll take through to my life, confidence and self-belief. The ability to work in a team, really challenge and push your teammates and have them challenge and push you has been incredible. I’ve made some great friends and contacts who I look forward to carrying on this relationship in the future. Thank you to the trustees and thanks for everyone who believed in me for this opportunity.”
New Plymouth-based teenage race driver Thomas Boniface, who took third place from the camp’s assessments, says: “I’ve learned so many things; nutrition is a big one that I’m definitely going to take forward into my motor racing, as well making myself mentally prepared. Once I have my nutrition and mindset sorted out, I definitely think that I can improve behind the wheel, I’ll have more focus. The thing I enjoyed most about the camp was meeting people. I’m a social person by heart, meeting everyone here has been awesome and am really grateful that I got selected for the Academy.”
MotorSport New Zealand President Wayne Christie is also a trustee of the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust and joined the camp in Dunedin on the last morning to meet this year’s Academy participants. “It was evident that every athlete put in an outstanding effort during the camp – a couple pushed themselves so hard that they threw up! Their teamwork was assessed by tutors as being some of the very best yet. The presentation and speaking skills they demonstrated during the prizegiving were outstanding and all the trustees are delighted to see all participants gain so much from the Otago Academy of Sport tutors. That is, of course, what the Academy camp is all about and we look forward to seeing them all take these skills and learnings into their future motorsport careers.”
Now in its 15th year, the Elite Motorsport Academy first ran in 2004. Since then, many academy graduates have forged successful international careers, including Formula First graduates Shane van Gisbergen, Brendon Hartley and Mitch Evans.