After spending the early days figuring out the difficult steps to provide the pathway to a highly successful professional racing career, Chris and Billie van der Drift are very aware of the current lack of support for drivers in New Zealand to develop their careers.
Chris has developed an impressive CV which includes being a Lamborghini Super Trofeo Champion, three-time international Champion of Porsche Carrera Cup, three-time European Single-seater Champion and successful competitor in Formula Renault 2.0, Formula BMW, International Formula Master, A1GP, V8 Supercars, GP2, Auto GP World Series, Superleague Formula, as well as being a multiple New Zealand karting champion.
Chris knows exactly what is required to make the jump from karting into open-wheelers or tin-top categories.
Since forming the Veloce Karting shop and racing team based in Hamilton, Chris has utilised his extensive knowledge of motorsport engineering and driving to mentor, support, engineer and inspire young drivers to be the best they can and potentially realise their driving goals.
The Veloce team have now aligned themselves with long-time friend and competitor, Daniel Gaunt and the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy to provide a seamless pathway from karts-to-cars.
“What we can create is a full pathway, and with me being still active in racing I hope we can motivate kids to keep focussed on their goals” said van der Drift.
The programme is run primarily by Chris, with support from Daniel Gaunt and accomplished British Touring Car driver and kart champion, Tiffany Chittenden.
The one-day, intensive format covers all areas of mental and nutritional preparation, data and video analysis, working with an engineer right through to karting braking techniques, race lines, reaction time testing, sport specific strength and conditioning training. Class size is kept smaller to ensure quality one-on-one attention.
“We sold out the first day, in one night, we went live and we sold out,” van der Drift said.
“We’d rather do this with quality rather than just pumping students through. We had comments from parents advising their driver talked about the day at Hampton Downs all the way home.”
Initially, students will bring their own karts to the Hampton Downs Kart Track, but in time the vision for the Academy includes supply of Veloce Cadet ROK, Vortex Mini ROK, 125cc Rotax Max Junior and Vortex ROK DVS Junior equipment, for drivers between the ages of 7 and 15 years old.
Highlands Motorsport Park and Hampton Downs owner, Tony Quinn, recently announced his commitment and vision to provide Kiwi drivers an opportunity to develop to international level and this is now complete with the Veloce Karting Academy providing that missing link to a professional development pathway.
Chris is very thankful to Tony Quinn for providing the facility to run the academy from.
New Zealand racers have traditionally been punching well above their weight internationally, so the Veloce Karting Academy can only strengthen the position of budding Kiwi flyers.
The Veloce team would love to be able to assist the next Liam Lawson, Matthew Payne or Kaleb Ngatoa achieve their dreams.
Chris believes the future is very bright for Kiwi racing drivers, and with his connections in Europe and other parts of the racing world, he is certain he can be the catalyst to assist our young drivers become world champions.