SsangYong champion Peter Bennett wins BMW E30 Scholarship

Reigning SsangYong Racing Series champion Peter Bennett has won this year’s BMW E30 Scholarship.


Run by the BMW Race Driver Series, the scholarship day was held last weekend at Pukekohe Park.


A wet and slippery circuit made for a tough evaluation, however, Bennett managed to impress and take out top honours. SsangYong drivers Joel Herbert and Kieron Rollinson were second and third respectively in this year’s running.


A total of 21 drivers were put through various tests including driver interviews as well as competency and ability assessment, with driving assessments done by Mike Eady of TrackTime. BMW regular Matt Griffin and former Toyota 86 Championship winner Tom Alexander were also on hand to help.


The win comes a year after Bennett narrowly missed out on the scholarship drive having finished third in the 2017 edition of the evaluation day.


After last year’s disappointment, Bennett said he felt more prepared than ever having gotten more experience and tuition in the year between evaluations.


“I got third in last year’s competition so I was pretty confident I could do the same or hopefully better this year,” Bennett told


“Since last year’s scholarship I did the Aussie Driver Search over in Australia and learned a lot from that in terms of what they look for in this style of competition.


“I had Todd Hazlewood as my judge and got a lot of feedback from him, which was all good advice that I could put into use.”


For Bennett, he earns a fully paid for drive in the E30 Series, which includes entry fees, registration fees, membership, a set of tyres, a set of brakes, fuel per round and some additional costs.


Bennett said he’s already looking forward to the first round of the series on September 22–23 at the annual HRC Icebreaker meeting where he’ll make his debut.   


“Any series where all the cars are the same and you’re not chequebook racing is the type of racing that really excites me. You know that everyone is on the same level.”


Already he’s eying up a long-term future within the club with ambitions to progress through the 2.0-litre classes through to the Open Class.


“How the series is set up you can progress through all of their ranks. There’s a process you can follow all the way through.


“I like the concept and after meeting a lot of people involved with the series, they’re just an awesome bunch of people to be involved with.


“I think with the uncertainty around other classes in New Zealand motorsport at the moment, with the size of the fields BMW have got they’re the most solid class. I’d love to just stay on-board with whatever they’ve got happening.”


The scholarship is into its fifth year of running. The first edition was won by Tom Grooten in 2014. Since then it has been won by Robert Hill, Tim Dawson and Jordan Baldwin, who has since graduated to the Toyota 86 Championship.


Photos: Supplied/Matt Smith


BMW Race Driver Series 2018–'19 Calendar: 


Round Circuit Date
1 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato 22–23 September 2018
2 Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupō 24–25 November 2018
3 Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupō 1–3 February 2019
4 Pukekohe Park, Auckland 23–24 February 2019
5 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato 23–24 March 2019
6 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato 4–5 May 2019


Non-Championship Endurance Series: 


Round Circuit Date
1 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato 13–14 October 2018
2 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato* 9 December 2018


*denotes use of international circuit