Race with the champion team: the CareVets Scholarship test and evaluation day has been moved from its traditional September date to April 30 at Hampton Downs.
The change is to give more drivers keen to race in the series a chance to secure the sponsored drive, and for the winner to be in place in time for a crack at Class 3 of the North Island Endurance Series over the winter.
The Scholarship programme runs two cars in the Toyota 86 Championship, with the driver having to bring 20 per cent of the total season budget. The championship winning team has made the decision to bring the evaluation day forward to give all drivers a longer lead in time to secure the sponsorship required, but also to ensure the winner gets a solid winter testing and development programme under their belts, which this year will include three endurance races in the North Island series.
"For three seasons, CareVets has supported two young drivers as they move into mainstream national motorsport by supporting and mentoring them through their first season of competition in the Toyota 86 Championship using a full back up support and heavily-funded racing programme," explained CareVets team principal Dr Keith Houston.
"Drivers need to register their interest and enter now as interest in securing a drive in the team has never been higher. We want to give every driver the best possible opportunity and extending the lead in time from test day to race day is one way of doing this. We also want to crank up the pre-season development and endurance racing will add a new dimension to that. Interest in the series is also at an all-time high and we expect to see grids of up to 20 drivers next season. So all those who excel on the test day and decide the series is for them also have a longer period of time to get their programmes together."
Category manager Geoff Short backed the decision to bring forward the Scholarship programme, emphasising the opportunities both it and the category present to young Kiwi racers.
"Winning the series opens doors domestically and in Australia and potentially elsewhere with a major manufacturer in the shape of Toyota and bringing this particular programme forward is definitely an overall positive for the team and for the championship," he explained. "We are seeing more young drivers wanting to test themselves against the best of their generation in this category and really, the longer they have to prepare themselves, their budgets and their championship challenges, the better. If you want to see where you are in the young driver pecking order in NZ, then it’s fast becoming the best place to be. With an endurance racing element it’s going to be even better."
CareVets driver Jack Milligan won the 2017-2018 championship and has secured a Toyota 86 drive at the Bathurst 1000 meeting as a result. Last year Ryan Yardley won the title for the team and graduated to the Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
All participants must be between the ages of 15 – 25 years. Entries close on April 16th. The aim is to ensure that the scholarship winner is nurtured through the course of the year. The winner may be eligible for a second year in the team but this will be subject to performance. A variety of aspects of driver performance are tested including driving skills, fitness and presentation skills.
Prospective young drivers can register their interest at www.carevetsracing.co.nz
Image by Euan Cameron