MARTIN NEXT KART OFF THE RANKS

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - DRIVEWAY - Bill Buys

THERE must be some­thing special in the wa­ters of Western Aus­tralia.

It has pro­duced Formula 1 star Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, and now an­other young Perth­ling mak­ing his mark in the world rac­ing scene is 22-year-old An­thony Martin.

He has just com­pleted a test drive with An­dretti Au­tosport in an IndyLights car and, with luck, could be in the team’s four-car line-up for 2018.

Like Ric­cia­rdo and many other rac­ing aces, the tall, mod­est Martin started in karts in 2008 and within a few years took the State and then the Aus­tralian ti­tles.

More than a top driver, his sport­ing tal­ents in­clude cricket and soc­cer, and he was once of­fered a US schol­ar­ship to de­velop his soc­cer skills – but he po­litely de­clined be­cause he knew his fu­ture was in the cock­pit of a sin­gle-seat race car.

With many kart­ing ti­tles to his credit, he moved on to Formula Ford, and won the State ti­tle and Rookie of the Year in his de­but sea­son.

He has since set his sights on Indy­cars via Mazda Road to Indy, a three-step driver de­vel­op­ment pro­gram, pro­vid­ing a schol­ar­ship-funded path to the Ver­i­zon IndyCar Se­ries, in­clud­ing the fa­bled In­di­anapo­lis 500.

But it’s an ex­pen­sive busi­ness and the schol­ar­ship part only ap­plies to the win­ner of each of the three cat­e­gories that pre­cede the ul­ti­mate Indy­cars.

With help from his par­ents and Kalgoorlie busi­ness­man Paul Burgess, he joined the pro­gram in 2015 in the USF2000 class, won it in 2016 and used the schol­ar­ship to move up to Pro-Mazda.

There he and Brazil­ian Vic­tor Fran­zoni had a tremen­dous tus­sle through­out the year, trad­ing wins at the var­i­ous cir­cuits, with Martin run­ner-up in a con­tro­ver­sial fi­nal.

How­ever, An­dretti Au­tosport scouts had noted his tal­ent and in­vited him to test with the team at In­di­anapo­lis.

An­thony Martin at a test­ing ses­sion with the An­dretti Au­tosport Indylights car.

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