Taupo lad a natural behind the wheel
Conrad Clark has driven his way to a motor racing scholarship after setting the fastest lap times and impressing the judges.
The 14-year-old Taupo-nuia-Tia College student didn’t hold back as he took part in the 2017 SpeedSport ‘Star of Tomorrow’ motor racing scholarship last weekend.
The $50,000 scholarship means Clark will get a fully funded season in the Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First Championship running with Sabre Motorsport as well as mentoring from team owner Dennis Martin.
Also included in the scholarship is a custom designed race suit from Chicane racewear as well as gloves, boots and an Arai helmet.
Travelling to Manfeild, Clark had to take part in an evaluation day over the weekend. Saturday consisted of him having two practice runs and two judging sessions. There were also off-track interviews he had to take part in.
Once that was all done, six drivers were placed in the finals on Sunday which consisted of the same format as Saturday.
Racing for Clark only started a few years ago but he started off kart racing.
Jumping from kart to a Formula First car was a bit different for Clark but it was something he did flawlessly.
‘‘Formula First cars don’t have a lot of grip,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s also got gears. I had to get used to using a clutch.’’
Clark managed to set the fastest time at every session on Saturday’s evaluation day before continuing his speed over to Sunday’s finals, setting the fastest lap time then too.
Clark’s times were the best seen at Manfeild’s back-track for some time, setting a 53.94s lap. Clark was the only driver to enter the 53s all weekend.
Winning the scholarship was a huge achievement for Clark.
‘‘I was really happy. Hopefully it’s a really good opportunity,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve seen the people who go through this scholarship like Shane Van Gisbergen and he’s the reigning champ in Supercars. Hopefully it’s my first step to being the next Van Gisbergen.’’
With this scholarship, Clark hopes to slowly progress up to the V8 Supercars himself.
Clark’s first venture in car racing kicks off in a fortnight with the opening round of the Manfeild Winter Series on June 3-4.
Conrad Clark is all set for his first ever race in a Formula First.