The Kiwi Driver Fund – or KDF as it is more usually known – is back in style for 2023 with confirmation that it will support no fewer than four drivers in the forthcoming Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
Kiwi contenders Callum Hedge, Liam Sceats, James Penrose and championship winning Breanna Morris (pictured) have all attracted support from KDF – which goes towards the chassis leasing costs of their five round season which begins this coming weekend at the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.
The Kiwi Driver Fund was established in 2015 to provide a ‘top up’ fund for young New Zealand drivers to help develop their careers, within New Zealand and principally in the Castrol Toyota racing Series, which is now known as Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania.
Countless Kiwi drivers have benefitted since then, including Liam Lawson who is currently on the cusp of a Formula One career as Red Bull F1’s nominated reserve driver and Matthew Payne, the rising Kiwi star in V8 Supercars.
The KDF support for Kiwi drivers has continued even during the pandemic with only the absence of any Castrol Toyota single seaters in 2022 due to Covid restrictions forcing it onto the side lines for a year. For 2023 it has a more important playing field as well. The Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship has a new name, new allocation of super licence points and a new status in world motorsport for its return to the international motorsports scene.
Trustee Bob McMurray, a long-time supporter of emerging Kiwi talent, is delighted KDF is back and supporting what he feels is another wave of fantastic New Zealand motorsport talent.
“It’s always hard for Kiwi drivers to break though onto the international scene but just look at how good they have become over the years. In 2023 we will have three in Indycar, one knocking on the door of F1, a World Endurance champion and Le Mans winner setting the pace in the WEC and numerous other Kiwi youngsters competing at high levels throughout the motorsport world.
“Post pandemic it’s even harder for them but the emergence of talent has continued apace despite the challenges of recent years and we want to do our very best to support Breanna, Callum, Liam and James as they prepare to take the start in a championship that could provide them with a major stepping stone in their careers, especially now the FIA have recognised the New Zealand series with more vital Super Licence point as a higher status in world motorsport as a certified Formula Regional category, one of only seven in the world.
“As KDF we also continue to search for support to enable the next generation of Kiwi driving talent, and those generations that follow, to enter the CTFRO and compete against the very best visiting international junior formulae drivers who will visit our shores”.
The New Zealand championship has one of the best records in junior formulae for the proportion of its drivers over the years who have made it to Formula One or achieved other notable successes. Current F1 drivers Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll and Guanyu Zhou have all raced in the championship when it was known as Castrol TRS. Norris and Stroll were both champions. Eighteen others went to international F3, F2 and beyond.
2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship Schedule:
|1||Highlands Motorsport Park||13 to 15 January, 2023|
|2||Teretonga Park Raceway||20 to 22 January, 2023|
|3||Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon||27 to 29 January, 2023|
|4||Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park||3 to 5 February, 2023|
|5||Taupo International Motorsport Park||10 to 12 February, 2023|
Main image: Supplied | Words: Supplied