Promising Kiwi scores Bathurst Toyota drive

22 Sep
Teenager wins way to Bathurst with judges watching on
  • Kiwi teen Ben Stewart will compete in Toyota 86 finale

  • Stewart won inaugural Scholarship Series Evaluation Day

  • New Zealander won in front of high-profile Supercars figures

18-year-old New Zealander Ben Stewart will compete in the final event of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series at Mount Panorama, after winning the inaugural Scholarship Series Evaluation Day.

The event was hosted by Toyota Australia at Sydney Motorsport Park on Thursday.

The Wellington-based driver was invited to compete alongside fellow TGRA Scholarship Series entrants, Charlie Parker, Summer Rintoule and Shayne Nowickyj.

The drivers, all aged between 16 and 23, completed a series of five activities, designed not only to test their driving abilities but also their understanding of technical and sporting regulations, media commitments and fitness.

A judging panel comprising of professional racing drivers Warren Luff, Steven Johnson, Harry Bates and Walkinshaw Andretti United Team Principal, Bruce Stewart had the responsibility of picking the winning driver.

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“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to race at Bathurst,” Stewart said at the conclusion of the day.

“It’s going to be awesome racing in a big field in the main series and working with Toyota. Even just being there for the [Bathurst] 1000, alongside Supercars is going to be so cool.

“I can’t thank Toyota enough for this opportunity, it’s pretty life changing. I just can’t wait.”

Stewart recorded the quickest lap times during the on-track sessions and also excelled in the fitness element, comprehensively winning the punishing ‘Beep-Test.’

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However it was his commitment to attend the day that most impressed the judges, after flying solo from New Zealand and then catching a train from Sydney Airport out to the circuit.

Looking back at his performance, Stewart was able to analyse which of the tests he performed well in and which areas he still wants to work on.

“I was surprised with how well I went in the car control, it [drifting on a wet skidpan] is something I’ve never really done before and it was probably the most fun part of the day.”

“Media stuff, I could always work on it. I’m better than I used to be. Then on track I did alright but there’s still a lot that I could have done better.”

The grassroots feeder series, which has already helped elevate names such as Will Brown, Broc Feeney, Cameron Hill and Declan Fraser will be a highlight of the Repco Bathurst 1000 undercard.

Campbell Logan holds a slender 26-point lead over Ryan Casha after a strong performance at the recent event at Sandown.

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