Toyota alumni to the fore at Motorsport New Zealand awards
Le Mans 24 Hour race winners Earl Bamber (Wanganui) and Brendon Hartley (Palmerston North), were among the Toyota motor racing alumni who received awards at the annual Motorsport New Zealand prize giving in Wellington last weekend.
The pair both competed in the Toyota Racing Series, with Bamber finishing runner-up in 2008 and 2010 while Hartley was third in 2005.
Bamber was elected to the sport’s “Wall of Fame.” Hartley who had been inducted previously was awarded the Jim Clark Trophy for the top performances of the last 12 months, culminating in his elevation to the Toro Rosso Formula One team.
Christchurch’s Marcus Armstrong, who currently lies fifth in the European Formula 3 Championship, was awarded the Bruce McLaren Memorial Trophy after finishing third overall and top local driver in the 2018 Toyota Racing Series.
Russian Robert Shwartzman who won last summer’s TRS took away the Gold Star award.
Liam Lawson from Pukekohe, who is currently second in the German Formula Four Championship won the Steel Trophy for the second successive year as the best young driver showing dedication and professionalism. In his videoed acceptance speech 16-year-old Lawson indicated he is a likely starter in the 2019 Toyota Racing Series.
Next summer’s Toyota 86 Series will have a large influx of driving talent from award winners.
Jordan Baldwin (Auckland) who topped the 2017-18 Motorsport Academy is planning a second season of racing in the two litre sports coupes after winning the rookie of the year award in the series last summer.
Four of the eight drivers selected to participate in the Academy over the next 12 months, Callum Crawley, Billy Fraser, Jaden Ransley and Peter Vodanovich are also likely starters in the Toyota 86 series which starts in November and runs until March 2019.
Callum Hedge who won the Formula 1600 title last summer will be stepping up to the Toyota 86 series, having recently secured the CareVets scholarship drive.
The current champion, Jack Milligan also received his award at the Wellington function.