Mo­tor sport

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENT - By Mark Baker. Pho­tos Fer­rari Driver Academy.

Thrust into two in­tensely com­pet­i­tive Euro­pean cham­pi­onships at just 16 years of age, young Kiwi ace Mar­cus Arm­strong is show­ing world class speed and form.

The Christchurch-born driver, son of mo­tor in­dus­try iden­tity Rick Arm­strong, has scored two out­right wins and six podium fin­ishes to lead the FIA For­mula 4 Italy Cham­pi­onship at its mid-point. While in the the ADAC Ger­man F4 Cham­pi­onship which he is also con­test­ing this year the tally is two wins and four podi­ums and he is third on points.

Widely re­garded as New Zealand’s next ‘great hope’, Arm­strong won his first na­tional kart­ing ti­tle in 2011 at the age of 10.

He con­tin­ued kart­ing at the high­est level un­til late last year when he made the switch to ‘wings and slicks’. Kart­ing taught him the im­por­tance of prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing.

“Prac­tice is es­sen­tial to get the car set up right for the cir­cuit and see where ev­ery­one else is at; and in a grid of 28 or 30 other rac­ers qual­i­fy­ing is crit­i­cal. It’s not an au­to­matic free pass to a race win but it’s so much harder to get to the podium from fur­ther back, as the re­verse grid races show,” he said.

In his first Toy­ota Rac­ing Se­ries sea­son he scored two out­right wins, most no­tably the Denny Hulme Me­mo­rial Cup at Taupo. Here, he per­fected his high-risk, high gain sig­na­ture over­take, a bold and ag­gres­sive thrust around the out­side of a ri­val, grap­pling with the re­duced grip and tak­ing the other driver by sur­prise.

“Some­times it’s the only way if the guy in front is hold­ing you up,” he said.

Men­tor­ing pro­grammes help young driv­ers make fast and safe tran­si­tions up through the sport. Three years ago Arm­strong joined seven other young rac­ers on the Elite Mo­tor­sport Academy men­tor­ing pro­gramme which fo­cuses on pro­duc­ing ‘all-round’ grad­u­ates with ses­sions on fit­ness, nu­tri­tion, me­dia skills, men­tal con­di­tion­ing and much more. Then at an age when oth­ers are fret­ting about their NCEA re­sults, he was the first New Zealand driver to be in­vited to join the elite Fer­rari Driver Academy.

“Th­ese pro­grammes give me per­spec­tive on my rac­ing and the im­por­tance of do­ing ev­ery­thing well,” he said.

Arm­strong on his way to a win at Misano.

Mar­cus Arm­strong on the top step of the podium at Val­lelunga.

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