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NZ Rally Champion Hayden Paddon Is One, And So Is International Formula One Red Bull Team Member Brendon Hartley

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Brendon Hartley
Brendon Hartley

Both are amongst the "who's who" of up and coming NZ motorsport stars who fast-tracked to achievement after graduating from New Zealand's Elite Motorsport Academy.

The success of previous Motorsport Academy graduates is thought to be contributing to the intense competition for places in the 2009 programme, which has just begun with an initial week-long camp in Dunedin.

Nine track and rally drivers were accepted in the 2009 Year One intake, with a further nine drivers from 2008 carrying on into year two of the programme, with support from government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC).

The NZ Elite Motorsport Academy, run by the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island (NZAS SI) in partnership with the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust, equips the drivers with the skills and knowledge face the challenges in the world of elite motorsport.

The 2009 year one drivers are being exposed to a pressure-cooker environment during their intensive camp, which started in the weekend, focusing more on how to prepare the body and mind for their high performance sporting careers, rather than specific driving skills.

The young drivers receive expert training in fitness, nutrition, mental skills training, public speaking and decision-making techniques, using NZAS South Island and University of Otago School of Physical Education sport science resources. They leave equipped with an individual plan identifying specific areas of performance to develop, as well as on-going access to the support services relevant to their needs.

A feature of the programme is the racing simulators used in the Otago University heat chamber to replicate the heat stress drivers are exposed to during real-life racing. The drivers are put through different driving tests while experiencing extremely high heat and humidity.

Motorsport Academy Programme Director Martyn Croy explained the programme is an holistic approach that has successfully established a strong high performance culture amongst this generation of young motorsport professionals, including well known driving stars and Academy graduates Hayden Paddon, Brendan Hartley, Earl Bamber, Shane van Gisburgen and Mark Tapper.

The Academy has now firmly established a global reputation for making a remarkable difference to the performance of drivers in New Zealand Motorsport.

"Everyone can see the success of drivers who have graduated from the Academy and recognise how important it has been to their development," said Steven Kennedy, chairman of the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust; which organises and funds the Academy.

That success means high expectations on the current young drivers, which this year for the first time has included two siblings. "We predict New Zealand's likely to hear a lot more about this up-and-coming intake in the future."

This year's Academy class will comprise six race drivers and three rally drivers:

Nicholas Cassidy (Auckland), winner of the Speedsport Scholarship, who finished second in Formula First in his first season's racing.

Simon and Mitch Evans (Auckland), brothers who both contested the Formula Ford championship. After a second place in the championship, Mitch also shone in the Formula Ford events at the Australian Grand Prix.

Ben Jagger (Whangarei) currently competing in the 2WD NZ Rally Championship in a Ford Fiesta and already achieving good results.

Damon Leitch (Invercargill), who has contested two seasons in Formula Ford with good results.

Joshua Marston (Christchurch), currently competing in the NZ Rally Championship in a Lancer Evo 8.

Jamie McNee (Wellington) just completed his second season in Formula Ford after a successful karting career.

Mathew Penrose (Rangiora) another successful karter who contested the Formula Ford championship in 2008/09.

Martin Short (Auckland) former NZ kart champion contesting the Formula Ford championship.

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