The BNT New Zealand V8 Series has been added to Supercars’ Junior Development Program, in a bid to foster more young Kiwi talent.
Supercars’ junior program was announced earlier this year, focused on drivers progressing through Australian classes Dunlop Super2, Kumho Super3 and Toyota 86s.
A tie-up with the NZ V8 category has now been struck at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, where the domestic class is a support act.
Supercars currently has five Kiwi stars; Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway.
Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin will join Supercars CEO Sean Seamer on a selection panel to identify talent in BNT V8s and local karting.
Those selected will join Australian drivers in the Junior Development Program and be offered to participate in an evaluation day with Supercars team Brad Jones Racing at Winton.
“Supercars is very much an Australian and New Zealand series,” said Seamer.
“With such a strong motorsport culture and so many young people making their way through the ranks it makes sense to extend the junior development program to incorporate New Zealand.
“It is exciting to think we can find some more Scotts, Fabians, Shanes and Greg Murphys out there and bring them through the ranks.”
McLaughlin, who won a V8 touring car title in New Zealand on his way to Supercars, is already a patron of the KartSport Club in his home town of Hamilton.
“I am incredibly passionate about New Zealand motorsport, as are all of us Kiwis who have been fortunate enough to make it into Supercars,” said McLaughlin.
“The more we can do as drivers and the sport to help these kids take the next steps from karting the better. I am very supportive of this alliance between New Zealand and Australia.”
BNT V8s Category Manager Gary Lathrope also welcomed the new partnership.
“This program will help to provide a pathway forward for young New Zealand drivers who aspire to race at the top level,” he said.
“We are excited that one of our young drivers will be given this opportunity to test in a Supercar with Brad Jones Racing.”
The first stage of Supercars’ development program includes raising awareness and attracting more people to grassroots motorsport, an ambassador program utilising current Supercars drivers, activations at Supercars events and a grid kids’ program.
The second stage will identify Australia’s best young drivers and develop their skills through training, driver camps, tuition and mentoring at the Norwell Motorsport Complex on the Gold Coast.