Castrol reveals its Magnificent Seven
Castrol has revealed the shortlist of kiwi talent from which it will pick its New Zealand Grand Prix ambassador and 66 strong entry for the funded drive has been so good that it has expanded its original target of a fantastic five to a magnificent s
Any driver with NZ residency or citizenship could apply, but candidates must have demonstrated a track record of success in their previous racing endeavours. They could be from a saloon, single seater or even karting background.
With the final selection underway and a one-on-one interview with Castrol's judging panel to complete, Callum Crawley, Josh Donohue, Billy Frazer, Jordan Michels, Kaleb Ngatoa, James Penrose, and Peter Vodanovich are all onto the final lap to decide a winner.
"The judging panel was overwhelmed with the quality of the entries," said Castrol Brand & Product Manager Jan Willink. "Even after expanding the shortlist, it proved difficult to narrow that list down to seven drivers. What’s clear is that New Zealand’s young driver talent pool is incredibly deep, and we saw dozens of strong applications from young drivers who are all worthy of a spot on the grid at the Grand Prix.”
"The judging panel was impressed with the outstanding quality of so many applications, with an incredibly high level of thought and creativity across the board. That kind of dedication is of course one of the things every sponsor is looking for in a brand ambassador. While unfortunately – just like the Grand Prix – there can only be one winner, there were several drivers outside the shortlist that are only missing a little experience before they’re ready for the next step up."
The winner - who will be announced on December 15 - will carry Castrol colours on a Toyota FT-60 at the country's biggest single seater race at Hampton Downs over the weekend of February 11-13.
Driver Profiles (listed alphabetically by surname)
Callum Crawley - 21
Karting background, won the fiercely contested 2017-18 Hi-Q Components Formula First Championship before progressing to Formula Ford. Finished third in the 2018-19 national championship and went one better to claim the runner-up spot in 2019-20. From Feilding.
Josh Donohue - 19
2019 BMW E30 Scholarship winner and 2021 Formula Open New Zealand Series Champion. Has multiple years’ experience in karting at a variety of levels. Also has experience in the New Zealand Sports Car Championship, has won numerous street sprints and hill climbs and is a GT class winner in the highly Competitive Manfeild Winter Series. From Silverstream, Upper Hutt.
Billy Frazer - 18
Billy has just returned from the US having competed in USF2000 where he made some significant progress in a competitive field. He won a race in the 2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series and impressed with his dedication to preparation on and off track as well as his raw speed. A championship winner in Formula Ford, Formula First and karting. From Papakura.
Jordan Michels - 24
At just 24 Jordan has already demonstrated how versatile he is as a racing driver. He won the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship in 2019 and was runner up in the 2021 New Zealand Touring Car Championship. He’s also a two time Class 2 winner of the New Zealand Endurance Championship and has single seater experience in Australia’s S5000 series. From Invercargill.
Kaleb Ngatoa - 20
Arguably the most experienced of those shortlisted. Multiple karting champion. Rose through the ranks of karts and single seaters in New Zealand and stunned the motorsport world with an epic pole position at the 2021 NZ Grand Prix. Has raced with success in Australia's S5000 series bagging two wins and three pole positions. From Marton.
James Penrose - 25
New Zealand's 2021 Formula Ford champion with two wins and six podium finishes. South Island Formula Ford champion - remarkably clean sweeping all 18 races in the championship. Multiple karting titles. Tested for Toyota in its FT-60 impressively at Ruapuna earlier this year. From Rangiora.
Peter Vodanovich - 20
Jumped into circuit racing with an unconventional background. Super fit, raced 2K Cup and BMWs before winning the Toyota 86 Championship in a tight battle with Jaylyn Robotham. Jumped in at the deep end into single seaters this year, competing in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series where he secured the Most Improved Driver award. Headed stateside to broaden his experience in single seaters in USF2000. From Auckland.