Oz drivers tempted to Pukekohe for V8s
The domestic scene roars back into life this weekend at Pukekohe Park as the BNT V8s head into their second round.
Nissan Altima driver Nick Ross currently leads the series after finishing second in the opening race of the championship in early November behind Australian Jack Smith.
He then led the young Aussie home in the final two races. Smith’s teammate, Lance Hughes of Hamilton, finished third in what proved to be three action packed races for fans.
Smith will be the one to watch as the Australian driver proved to be very quick here last season and has been carving a reputation in the Dunlop Super2 Series at home, finishing tenth overall.
The three quick V8 Toyota Camrys didn’t feature much in the first round with both Chelsea Herbert and Benton Grove suffering from alternator issues and Scott Taylor crashing.
The series continues to grow and is attracting more budding Australian V8 drivers’ keen for some summer racing before embarking on their own domestic championships.
The championship has just announced that drivers will compete for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy when the series visits the South Island in January.
Richards was a three-time New Zealand Touring Car Champion and since 2012 the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy has been awarded to drivers in the New Zealand V8 Championship. Such was the popularity of the driver amongst his peers there are actually three trophies.
A further trophy is awarded at the New Zealand round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Series, while another is contested at Nelson’s KartSport club. McElrea in US shootout Queensland based Kiwi Hunter McElrea has this week been at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in the US taking part in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda scholarship shootout.
McElrea won the right to contest the shootout after winning the very competitive 2018 Australia Formula Ford Championship.
At least a dozen young drivers from six different nations are competing for a prize package valued at over $US200,000 in the 2019 USF2000 season.
The USF2000 is the American variation of the Formula Ford, using a 2.0 litre engine and with more aerodynamic downforce.
The series is part of the ‘Road to Indy’ three-tier driver development program that is a pathway through to the top IndyCar Series that Scott Dixon currently competes in.
McElrea is expected to pursue a single seater career in the US with a number of options available to him whether he is successful or not in the shootout.
Fellow Kiwi Callum Hedge, who won the NZ Formula 1600 title, elected not to compete for the scholarship as he is focusing on the Toyota TR86 Championship which has its second round this weekend, also at Pukekohe Park.
Hedge is expected to head to Australia in 2019 to compete in their national Formula Ford championship. Benjamin Carrell is the online editor of talkmotorsport.co.nz