Supercars has launched a new Junior Development Program in conjunction with Karting Australia and Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris.
The program is designed to create a pathway from the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship, Australia’s top level of karting, through to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
It will involve identifying 30 promising youngsters, who will be mentored by Morris, and, according to Supercars, is intended to complement existing programs such as those of JC Kart and the Erebus Academy.
Supercars is referring to its Junior Development Program as the ‘second stage’ of the tie-up, with the first stage comprising of an ambassador program featuring current Supercars drivers, activations at Supercars events, and grid kids at selected events.
Supercars COO Shane Howard said: “The program aims for Supercars and Karting Australia work closely to raise awareness and attract more people to grass roots motorsport.
“The second stage of the Junior Development Program will provide the opportunity to streamline, clearly identify and provide a direct pathway for some of the top young talent in Australian karting.
“Young drivers such as Broc Feeney has come through a similar experience to graduate to the Kumho Super3 Series this year as one of the hottest talents going around.
“Townsville’s Madison Dunston and Sydney’s Courtney Prince have also come through the ranks to make their way into the next tier of racing.
“Supercars Championship teams are lined up on pit wall at Supercar race meetings, and at major karting events, watching these kids coming through. They are the next stars of our sport.”
Morris has come to be renowned for his skills as a driver coach and developer of young talent, and is now guiding Anton De Pasquale in the driver market having fielded the current Erebus driver in Super2.
He currently runs a car for Feeney in Super3, as well as working with the likes of Super2 driver Jake Kostecki.
“This program, where the grass roots and top-level organisations are working hand-in-hand with the pure focus of providing guidance and opportunities for young drivers through karting and beyond, is a first for Australian motorsport,” said Morris.
“I’ve seen similar things work well in the UK and France has a very good Academy, to be able to begin a structured approach to driver development is something that really excites me.
“There’s a lot of great talent out there on kart tracks across the country, this program is about providing the best opportunities for those who want to move into circuit racing and make a career in the sport.
“Over the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some youngsters coming through the ranks with some great results, I have no doubt that this program will generate even more great results for our young drivers.”
Karting Australia CEO Kelvin O’Reilly believes that the program vindicates the nursery that is the Australian Kart Championship.
“To have a clear pathway for those who wish to make the transition thanks to a partnership with Supercars is fantastic,” said O’Reilly.
“The program recognises the talent being developed through karting, in particular the Australian Kart Championship, and provides the drivers with opportunities within the Supercars arena.
“We are only at stage one of the program, which is primarily intended to lift the profile of karting as motorsport in its own right and as the starting point for almost all professional racers.
“It will give us the opportunity to promote karting on Australia’s two biggest motor racing stages – the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship and the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.”
Supercars has also forecast the addition of non-driving elements to the program in future, in areas such as engineering, mechanics, media relations, marketing, sponsorship and management.