2014 Bathurst 1000 Champion and Nemo Racing team owner Paul Morris has identified 17-year old Gold Coast school boy Jack Smith as an emerging talent, giving him a steer in a Dunlop Series Supercar.
Smith steered Renee Gracie’s #98 Ford Falcon FG at Queensland Raceway yesterday the team’s test day and impressed Morris with his ability. Gracie did not turn any laps at the test.
“We think he has a bright future and we wanted to take the opportunity to give him a rookie evaluation and see where he’s at,” Morris told Supercars.com.
“It was a pretty exciting day and we just wanted to keep the pressure off him and let him just deal with it.”
Emerging from Go Karts, Smith races in the CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship this year. After three rounds – the last at Sydney Motorsport Park – Smith is sixth in the pointscore.
He also participates in the MARC Cars program which run endurance and GT racing, which Morris recognised as an important step.
“Jack is our fastest driver in that program and he won last time we were out against some more experienced guys,” Morris said.
Morris noted Smith’s lap times, feedback and his ability to understand the car as strengths.
“He has taken what he has learnt in the other program and adapted it to the Supercar very well,” Morris said.
“He is probably up there with one of the best we’ve seen in an initial test day and I think if he wanted to go on with it and make a career of it he definitely could.
“If that’s the way he wants to go then we will try and schedule some more track time in for him for sure.”
In fact, Morris believes Smith is good enough to feature in the Dunlop Series as soon as next year.
“He is looking at what he is going to do for next year… so it’s a matter of gaining as much information and making a decision based on logic and not on emotion,” Morris said.
“We haven’t made that decision yet but that’s sort of the process we are going through at the moment.
“We will make the best decision for Jack, whether he drives for us or someone else – it’s up to those guys to help him manage that process – but whatever is best for him that will be the decision.
“He did a great job and we are very proud of what he did,” Morris added regarding yesterday’s test.
The teenage talent will be on track at Sandown in the Formula Four Championship.
Meanwhile, the team’s second car improved throughout the day with Anton De Pasquale behind the wheel.
“There was a couple of things we wanted to improve on with his driving style from Townsville, mainly with braking and the braking technique,” Morris said.
“I’m really happy with his progress. We some good gains with that yesterday so all in all a positive day.”
Nemo racing shared the circuit with front runner Todd Hazelwood who also reported a positive test.