New Zealander Ben Stewart will venture to Australia to drive for 99 Racing in the final two rounds of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia Scholarship Series. The 18-year-old will make his debut at Queensland Raceway next weekend before venturing to Sydney Motorsport Park on September 8-10.
Former Supercars driver Marcus LaDelle created 99 Racing with the intention of building a genuine pathway for drivers to grow and improve in all aspects of motorsport and has cars running in various classes throughout the country.
“I’m pretty excited for it,” Stewart told Velocity News. “It’ll be pretty cool being the only Kiwi at that whole event. It’ll be a real challenge, up against some really good drivers.”
Introduced just this year, the Scholarship Series was introduced to function as the second tier of Toyota 86 in Australia, given the increasing grid sizes and high level of competition for seats in the class.
It will be Stewart’s first time competing abroad following a successful rookie campaign in the Mazda Racing Series that saw him win the New Zealand, North Island and South Island titles in the 2021/22 season. He has most recently been competing in GTRNZ, driving a V8 S13 Silvia over the 2022/23 season, achieving some further success along the way.
It’s Stewart’s next challenge which is full of opportunity, with the Scholarship Series having the potential to open several pathways within the sport. He has his eyes firmly set on one of those.
“They do a shootout, where they choose five people from the series to compete for a fully-funded drive in the main series at Bathurst,” he says. “I’m aiming for that. It’d be an amazing experience to race in support of the Bathurst 1000.”
With an end goal of Supercars, the Scholarship Series presents Stewart with an exciting opportunity to stamp his name on the Australian scene as his budding career continues to grow.