Arran Crighton and Callum Hedge are the 2018-2019 CareVets Toyota 86 Scholarship winners and will race for the team over the coming six round championship which starts at November’s Virgin Australia Supercar Championship event at Pukekohe.
The pair emerged triumphant over 13 other hopefuls after a full day of testing at the Hampton Downs race circuit on Monday April 30.
Both have extensive experience in karting and open wheel racing. Crighton (20) steps up from Formula First, while Hedge (14) is the current Formula 1600 champion.
A close third, and named as reserve driver, was Kaleb Ngatoa.
CareVets Racing Team owner Dr Keith Houston said the judging panel – which consisted of himself, race driver and commentator Greg Murphy and Toyota 86 Championship category manager Geoff Short – had been ‘sorely tested’ by the sheer quality of this year’s record field of 15 applicants.
“The CareVets team was created with the express aim of nurturing young racing talent and teaching drivers race-craft, judgement and how to channel and control the natural aggression that every race driver needs in order to win. I’m very confident we have selected two excellent drivers for the coming championship and that Arran and Callum will be working hard during the winter to hone their skills ready for the start of the championship.”
Arran Crighton has been racing since he was six, starting in karts, then moving to Formula First and the Castrol BMW E30 Series. He says the day was a ‘huge’ test and he is very happy with his performance.
“I think the key for me was the track time; I think that is where I was able to stand out. Everyone else did so well in the fitness tests and interviews, it seemed as though there were a number of us in contention after those sessions. I really dug deep for the timed drives in the afternoon,” he said.
Callum Hedge won the 2017-2018 F1600 championship and has already mapped out steps in his motorsport career: contesting selected rounds of the Australian Formula Ford Championship in 2018, moving to the CareVets drive late this year and then on to Carrera Cup Australia or the Dunlop Super2 Series.
“It’s going to be awesome. This is a close championship and people will race hard for every corner and every point,” Hedge said.
The CareVets team has won the last two Toyota 86 Championships and its drivers have gone on to success in New Zealand and Australia. The 86 championship is a proven incubator of motor racing talent. Five of the six Kiwis who raced the Castrol Toyota Racing Series this year (including Marcus Armstrong, now competing in the FIA European Formula Three Championship) have also contested the Toyota 86 Championship.
Category Manager Geoff Short says the strength of interest in the scholarship bodes well for the championship itself.
“We are building new cars, people are sorting out their drives – and it’s been awesome to see the level of talent on display here.”
Members of the squad went through on-track familiarisations, fitness tests, interviews in front of the CareVets judging panel, and track driving sessions in the TR 86 race cars.
Team head Dr Keith Houston says the CareVets Racing team aims to maximize the competitiveness of its drivers in the championship, supporting them with a professional team environment.
“The CareVets team was created with the express aim of nurturing young racing talent and teaching drivers race-craft, judgement and how to channel and control the natural aggression that every race driver needs in order to win. Our drivers have won the last two Toyota 86 Championships and gone on to success here and in Australia,” he said.
The championship itself is a proven incubator of motor racing talent. Five of the six Kiwis who raced the Castrol Toyota Racing Series this year (including Marcus Armstrong, now competing in the FIA European Formula Three Championship) have also contested the Toyota 86 Championship.
Many of those who test for the CareVets drives but are not selected are later able to bring together their own racing challenges for the championship.