Supercars has forged a partnership with the BNT New Zealand V8 Series to help nurture Kiwi junior motorsport talents.
The New Zealand touring car series will join Supercars Junior Development Program which aims to identify and develop the future stars of the sport.
An announcement struck at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint will also see the New Zealand Karting Championship join the Supercars junior program that was unveiled earlier this year.
The initiative will see a group of selected aspiring young stars from Australia and New Zealand put through training camps, tuition and mentoring at the Norwell Motorplex on the Gold Coast.
A need was identified to include New Zealand karting and the BNT V8s into the program which will ultimately feed identified drivers into Supercars’ junior program in categories such as the Kumho Tyre Super3 Series, Dunlop Super2 Series, Toyota 86 Series or directly into the Championship.
The Kiwi drivers involved in the initiative will join their Australian counterparts in the Junior Development Program and will also be offered to participate in an evaluation day with Supercars team Brad Jones Racing at Winton.
New Zealand has unearthed a wealth of Supercars talent over the years, including four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy, in addition to the latest crop of talent featuring reigning champion Scott McLaughlin, 2016 champion Shane van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway.
“Supercars is very much an Australian and New Zealand Series,” said Supercars CEO Sean Seamer.
“With such a strong motorsport culture and so many young people making their way through the ranks it makes sense to extend the junior development program to incorporate New Zealand.
“It is exciting to think we can find some more Scotts, Fabians, Shanes and Greg Murphys out there and bring them through the ranks.”
BNT V8s Category Manager Gary Lathrope added: “This program will help to provide a pathway forward for young New Zealand drivers who aspire to race at the top level.
“We are excited that one of our young drivers will be given this opportunity to test in a Supercar with Brad Jones Racing.”
Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin will join Seamer on a selection panel to identify young talent through various Championships including the BNT V8s and Karting New Zealand.
“I am incredibly passionate about New Zealand motorsport, as are all of us Kiwis who have been fortunate enough to make it into Supercars,” said McLaughlin, who is patron of the KartSport Club in his home town of Hamilton.
“The more we can do as drivers and the sport to help these kids take the next steps from karting the better. I am very supportive of this alliance between New Zealand and Australia.”
The two-tier development program includes raising awareness and attracting more people to grassroots motorsport, an ambassador program utilising current Supercars drivers, activations at Supercars events and a grid kids program.