A seven driver shortlist, naming those that will vie for a seat in the New Zealand Grand Prix has been announced.
Callum Crawley, Josh Donohue, Billy Frazer, Jordan Michels, Kaleb Ngatoa, James Penrose, and Peter Vodanovich are the seven drivers that have been shortlisted and will move on to the final stage, a one-on-one interview with Castrol’s judging panel.
Any driver with NZ residency or citizenship could apply, although they need to have a track record of success through their previous racing, whether that was in saloons, single-seaters or karting.
The winner will get a drive in the 2022 New Zealand Grand Prix, supported by Castrol; Ngatoa, Fraser, and Vodanovich have all previously raced in the series.
“The judging panel was overwhelmed with the quality of the entries,” said Castrol Brand & Product Manager Jan Willink.
“Even after expanding the shortlist, it proved difficult to narrow that list down to seven drivers. What’s clear is that New Zealand’s young driver talent pool is incredibly deep, and we saw dozens of strong applications from young drivers who are all worthy of a spot on the grid at the Grand Prix.
“The judging panel was impressed with the outstanding quality of so many applications, with an incredibly high level of thought and creativity across the board. That kind of dedication is of course one of the things every sponsor is looking for in a brand ambassador.
“While unfortunately – just like the Grand Prix – there can only be one winner, there were several drivers outside the shortlist that are only missing a little experience before they’re ready for the next step up.”
Ngatoa, Fraser, and Vodanovich have all been competitors in the Toyota Racing series, with Ngatoa taking pole position for the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix, Frazer took a race win the 2021 TRS season, while Vodanovich secured the most improved driver for this year’s Grand Prix.
Crawley, Frazer, Michels, and Penrose have all competed in the Formula Ford series. Michels, Frazer and Penrose won the championship in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively while Crawley finished runner up in the 2020 season.
Donohue was the winner of the 2019 BMW E30 Scholarship as well also being crowned as the 2021 Formula Open New Zealand Series Champion.
The winner will be announced December 15 ahead of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs, February 11-13.
Picture Bruce Jenkins.