7 May
7 May 2018

Scholarship racing on at Manfeild

OPPORTUNITY to race in the United States has further lifted the standing of a star of the future motorsport search that calls Manfeild home.

Circuit chief executive Julie Keane says the extra shine meted the annual SpeedSport Scholarship reflects the ongoing importance of a generous regionally-orchestrated competition giving its winner a season in the Formula First category.

“Manfeild takes pride that we are part of a scholarship story that further shows our circuit as a breeding ground for future champions.

“I’m delighted that, in addition to continuing to provide the significant prize of entry into the primary single seater circuit racing class this opportunity is now availing an international component.”

Driven by Palmerston North motor-racing identity Dennis Martin, the scholarship starts with a drive-off between young competitors at the Feilding facility.

Entrants will be put through their paces during an evaluation on May 18-19 before the finalists will be selected to compete for the scholarship on May 20.

The winner of that showdown on the Manfeild back circuit achieves a year-long programme in Formula First, a national entry single-seater format that remains evergreen in its 50th year.

The race schedule encompasses the Manfeild Winter Series starting in June and then ramps up to the NZ Formula First Championship, comprising 12 events across all North Island circuits from November until next April.

That already vaunted prize gets extra polish now, however, with the recent addition of potential to snare another award beyond – racing in a high-profile category in America.

The opportunity to test for Kiwi Motorsport, which competes in the US Formula Four series, is presently being enjoyed by 2017-2018 Speedsport Scholarship winner Conrad Clark.

He has just headed Stateside to test the team’s Honda-powered Crawford F4-16 in advance of contesting a six-round championship. 

The car’s entry is a combined effort by Kiwi Motorsport, operated by New Zealanders Garry Orton and Teena Larsen, and CrossLink Racing. 

The US element is an exciting plus for a competition that has a fantastic record over a 19-year span in kick-starting the careers of many of New Zealand's best drivers.

Start-outs with Mr Martin’s Sabre team who are now in the international spotlight include Brendon Hartley, Shane van Gisbergen, Nick Cassidy, Mitch Evans – respectively headline acts in Formula One, Australian Supercars, Japan’s Super GT and Formula E.

Mrs Keane says Mr Martin is a true Manfeild legend who has done much for motorsport.

“The respect for Dennis and the scholarship in New Zealand has always been huge. It is testimony to his amazing enthusiasm,” Mrs Keane vouched.

“That special status is surely only set to increase all the more now.”

A former multiple champion in Formula First, Mr Martin chose to use the Manfeild back track for his scholarship showdown it simply cuts no slack.

It is a demanding piece of flat, constantly curving track; it’s hard to get it right and there is nowhere to hide when mistakes are made.”

Speedsport scholarship 2018.jpg

Caption: The annual Speedsport Scholarship provides opportunity for a season in the Formula First championship … plus a chance to race in the United States.

Photo: Jordie Peters