As the country gets excited about its first Formula 1 driver in more than three decades, another young gun from the same category that nurtured a young Brendon Hartley is also setting his sights high for the coming season.
Taupo driver Conrad Clark will run the full Hi-Q Components Formula First season this coming summer, slotting into the SpeedSport Scholarship car which has carried some of New Zealand motor racing’s current stars to success over the years.
Graduates include Bathurst star Richie Stanaway, current V8 Supercar champion Shane van Gisbergen, Japan-based single seater and GT star Nick Cassidy, Andrew Waite and Liam Lawson.
Clark started in karting when he was just 12 years old and now at 15 secured the SpeedSport Scholarship for 2018-2018 after clocking with the fastest time in every session he undertook during the two day test.
After sampling the VW-powered single seaters in the Manfeild Winter series and getting his first race wins under his belt, he’s looking forward to the season ahead when he will likely face off against 20 other racers in the Formula First category, which is well known for its nose to tail racing, slipstreaming and focus on driving technique.
“I chose Formula First and the scholarship because it is a very good series to learn both race craft and how to drive a manual race car including even basics like how to do standing starts,” the youngster said, currently training four times a week at his local gym ahead of his first full single seater season.
“As well as that you are working in a team and when you look at names that have come through the class and the SpeedSport Scholarship it’s pretty impressive and clearly can set drivers on exactly the right path. I want to make the most of that opportunity.
“I’m very excited to be competing for a national title and it’s going to be real thrill racing around the North Island on some very cool tracks.
“The Grand Prix meeting racing on the same weekend as the Toyota Racing Series is obviously going to be a highlight but I am looking forward to all the meetings this season because I will be racing on tracks I have grown up spectating at.
“I have to thank my ,um and dad for all their help both financially and mentally and Dennis Martin for his belief in me and for everything that he has already done for me.”
The marathon eight round summer championship season for Formula First revs up with the first round at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon over the coming weekend and concludes at Pukekohe Park at the end of March with five of the eight rounds running as part of the Speed Works Events premier motor racing calendar for 2017/2018.
2017–’18 Hi-Q Components Formula First calendar
Round 1: Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 20-22 October 2017
Round 2: Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park – 18-20 November 2017
Round 3: Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park – 1-3 December 2017
Round 4: Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park – 2-4 February 2018
Round 5: Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 9-11 February 2018
Round 6: Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 23-25 February 2018
Round 7: Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – 9-11 March 2018
Round 8: Pukekohe Park Raceway – 30 March – 1 April 2018