Eight motorsport competitors from Auckland, Whakatane, Hamilton, Marton and Christchurch have been selected to participate in New Zealand’s world-class Elite Motorsport Academy programme for 2017.
Represent race and rally motorsport disciplines, the talented young competitors selected for the 2017 Elite Motorsport Academy are:
Jordan Baldwin, 19, race driver, Auckland
Sarah Brennan, 25, rally co-driver, Christchurch
Arran Crighton, 19, race driver, Auckland
Samantha Gray, 22, rally co-driver, Lincoln
Reece Hendl-Cox, 16, race driver, Whakatane
Kaleb Ngatoa, 16, kart/race driver, Marton
Job Quantock(pictured), 23, rally driver, Christchurch
Jack Williamson, 25, rally driver, Hamilton
The Elite Motorsport Academy is managed by the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust and run by world-class 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 each year 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.
Tony Herbert, one of five trustees, is looking forward to getting to know the 2017 class at the July camp. “The standard of competition looks to be as strong as ever, so we’re confident these academy participants will work hard to benefit from the world-class programme which continues to evolve over the years.”
The path that Jordan Baldwin, from Howick in Auckland, took into motorsport includes speedway mini-stocks where he was rookie of the year in 2012/13, and then karts where he raced and won regularly in the senior Rotax classes. In 2016 Baldwin won the chance to race a fully-funded BMW E30 in the hugely-popular and competitive BMW Race Series from 21 other hopefuls. Now studying commerce at Massey University, he’s now a regular top-three placer in the 64-car BMW series. He aims to race in the Toyota 86 Championship and then New Zealand’s premier touring car class.
Christchurch’s Sarah Brennan competes as the co-driver for Chris MacLean, from Governor’s Bay. The 25-yead-old is competing in her first full season of the New Zealand Rally Championship alongside MacLean in his Ford Fiesta. Brennan has a swathe of class wins as a co-driver to her credit in both national and Mainland championship events. An assistant investment adviser outside motorsport, Brennan aims to get behind the wheel herself to compete in local and club events while continuing her NZRC co-driving duties in the coming seasons.
Arran Crighton, from Auckland’s Torbay, started racing karts at age seven and proved very successful – in his final year in karts, age 15, he won 28 of the 50 races he contested. Moving to single-seater race cars, Crighton has now contested three seasons in the New Zealand Formula First Championship. The Long Bay College student starred in the 2016/17 Formula First series, leading the points-table for much of the season, until a final round incident left him unable to finish better than third place. His goals include winning the Formula First title and then move into the competitive one-make Toyota 86 series.
The second of two women in this year’s academy class, Lincoln-based Samantha Gray is also a rally co-driver and has just started her second season alongside Canterbury Car Club member Keith Anderson in the ex-Hayden Paddon Mitsubishi Evo rally car. The pair already have some class wins to their credit. Currently studying agriculture science at Lincoln University, Gray aims to complete all Mainland Rally Series events, plus some NZRC rallies this year before making a full NZRC bid next year and adding international events in future years.
Sixteen-year-old Reece Hendl-Cox, from Edgecumbe in Bay of Plenty, has just completed his first season in the New Zealand Formula First Championship. Having raced karts with considerable success at both regional and national level since he was seven, Hendl-Cox was delighted to finish fifth overall in the Formula First series as a rookie. He plans to return to the competitive Formula First series next season before stepping up to either the Toyota Racing Series or NZ Touring Cars
Kaleb Ngatoa is also contesting the NZ Formula First Championship with the 16-year-old from Marton pleased with the results he’s been able to achieve in a car that he and his team have been developing through the season. The former junior Rotax national kart champion finished seventh overall in his debut Formula First season. The Rangitikei College student aims to step up into Formula Ford next season before moving to New Zealand’s premier single-seater class the Toyota Racing Series.
Like his mentor Hayden Paddon, Job Quantock started in grass karts, winning a series of national grass kart championships several years ago. Moving to rally cars, Quantock won the Autosport Car Club championship in 2016 and also won the inaugural Hyundai NZ Young Driver Scholarship run by Hayden Paddon. This year, Quantock is contesting the New Zealand Rally Championship for the first time, using a Mitsubishi for four rounds and taking over the wheel of Paddon’s Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car for the other two rounds. The 23-year-old is originally from Ashburton and now lives in Kaiapoi, and works as a regional manager for HydroServices.
Hamilton’s Jack Williamson is contesting the New Zealand Rally Championship for the second time this year, in a Suzuki Swift. A licenced scrutineer for MotorSport New Zealand, the 25-year-old was invited to participate a coaching day run by Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon as part of the inaugural Hyundai NZ Young Driver Scholarship last year.
Currently studying mechanical engineering and mechatronics at Wintec, Williamson aims to improve his NZRC standings year over year as he rises through the categories. He is currently 17th in the NZRC drivers’ championship standings.
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.