New Zealand up-and-comer Ayrton Hodson will join McElrea Racing for a 2024 Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia campaign.
The 18-year-old from Tauranga has firmly established himself in the New Zealand motorsport scene since his tarmac racing debut in the 2022/23 Toyota 86 Championship, going on to win the New Zealand Endurance Championship 1-Hour for Class 4 & 5 vehicles with Brett Sullivan and won a thrilling opening race of the 2023/24 GT New Zealand Championship in November.
From a Speedway background, Hodson has continued to race Sprintcars in the North Island, claiming a career-first victory in a heat in Kihikihi before taking his first Feature win at home venue Baypark earlier this month.
With the Sprint Challenge not beginning until April, Hodson will still feature at Baypark in a Sprintcar at the Bay 51 meet and in the Piston Cup.
Having proved he can succeed on the tarmac and the dirt, Hodson sets off for his next adventure to take on some of Australasia’s best.
“I’m excited to be confirmed in Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge next year in Australia,” Hodson said in a release shared by the competition.
“Since first driving a Porsche in July this year, I have loved every minute of it and the type of car it is.
“My goal is to secure a full-time seat somewhere in the global Porsche programme in 2025. You must have a plan and whilst they are always subject to change our plans lead nicely into why we have signed with McElrea Racing in Australia.
“My recent race win in our New Zealand-based older model Porsche in the opening round of the Summerset GT series within the Super Sprint NZ Motorsport championship confirmed to everyone I am up for the task.”
“McElrea Racing have a great history in developing and nurturing pathways for their drivers,” he added.
“The US is part of our plan, and Andy (McElrea) has extensive experience and contacts up there. Andy and Leigh are passionate about what they do, and they really want to see their drivers succeed. They want to help in any way they can, which I think is a great attribute for a team.
“My goal for 2024 is to win Sprint Challenge, we have a good testing programme in place and I’ve done a good number of miles in the 991.1 in New Zealand but we don’t underestimate the level of learning required with a new country and new tracks. With a great team supporting me, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in contention come Sydney.”
As a Kiwi-owned team, McElrea Racing has become a recognisable force in Porsche racing in Australia and expanded to the United States in 2023.
Owner Andy McElrea welcomes further New Zealand influence into the outfit, with Hodson joining compatriot Clay Osborne amoung a four-strong lineup for the team.
“Ayrton is a very talented young man with a lot of driving experience despite his age and we’re excited to have him on board for 2024,” he said.
“Michelin Sprint Challenge has proven itself time and time again to be the best proving ground for young drivers starting on the Porsche pathway – both within our team and outside of that.
“McElrea Racing now has a well-established pathway into Carrera Cup Australia or North America, and we have proven that is effective. We’re really looking forward to working with Ayrton to establish his career on the Australian side of the Tasman and to watch his progression.”
Kiwi Brock Gilchrist will also compete in the 2024 Porsche Sprint Challenge, having been selected by Team Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport for the Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia scholarship driver seat.
The 2024 Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia Series commences at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit on April 12-14.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (Bruce Jenkins)