Motorsport: From Kiwi academy to the world

By Eric Thompson

Aucklander has nailed top spot, reports Eric Thompson

Mark Gibson was top at last year's Elite Motorsport Academy and is now driving a V8 Supercar. Picture  / Euan Cameron
Mark Gibson was top at last year's Elite Motorsport Academy and is now driving a V8 Supercar. Picture / Euan Cameron

Young New Zealand motor racing drivers continue to impress on and off the track. The latest young pilot to be acknowledged is V8 driver Mark Gibson, who has been selected to attend the Asia-Pacific selection event for the FIA Institute's 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.

One driver each from invited FIA national sporting authorities is eligible to attend the selection event at Sydney Motorsport Park next week from Sunday to Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Aucklander is the ideal candidate, having taken top spot at the Elite Motorsport Academy last year.

Gibson began his racing career in the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup championship, finishing third overall in 2011/12, and is now co-driving with Dominic Storey in the V8 SuperTourer Endurance Series - round six this weekend at Hampton Downs.

"It's a real privilege to be nominated by MotorSport NZ for the FIA Academy," said Gibson.

"I think winning the 2012 Elite Motorsport Academy week-long course might have helped me get the nomination. It's quite cool to go from the New Zealand academy to the world academy - let's hope I can make it through the regional course to get to the final.

"A lot of the stuff I'll be doing will be similar to what we did in Dunedin for the New Zealand academy, so I'm hoping that'll give me a bit of an edge.

"The only difference as far as I can work out is that the FIA has a bit of on-track stuff as well."

Gibson will attend the course the day after he finishes racing duties at Hampton Downs.

Motorsport New Zealand is right behind the scheme.

"Fostering our sport's young talent is a real priority," said general manager Brian Budd.

"It's important we make the most of these opportunities through the FIA and the high level of tuition it can offer.

"We wish Mark the best of luck next week."

Drivers from 11 countries are taking part in the regional selection process for the 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.

This year's academy involves a series of five qualifying events in regions around the world to give as many drivers as possible the opportunity to participate.

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport event is the fifth and final opportunity for drivers to get into the Young Driver Excellence Academy.

Each FIA national sporting authority in the region was asked to put forward a nomination, which was assessed by the FIA Institute.

To qualify, drivers had to meet minimum criteria, and had to have shown strong performance in competition.

V8 driver Mark Gibson has been selected to attend the Asia-Pacific selection event for the FIA Institute's 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.
V8 driver Mark Gibson has been selected to attend the Asia-Pacific selection event for the FIA Institute's 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.

Because of the distances between countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the FIA offered travel support to drivers wishing to participate in this event.

On the final shortlist are some of the Asia-Pacific region's top young drivers in racing and rallying, including competitors from Australian Formula Ford, the Sri Lankan Supercross Championship and the V8 Challenge Cup Championship.

The event will produce one winner to go to the Young Driver Excellence Academy.

Another three drivers will be selected using a wildcard system, making a total of eight participants in the final academy group.

Over the three days, the drivers will undergo exercises designed to evaluate fitness, driving performance, media techniques, teamwork and psychology - much as is done in New Zealand's well-regarded Elite Motorsport Academy.

The winner will receive a place on the academy's fully-funded training programme, which aims to help drivers develop their motor sport careers, while increasing safety skills and promoting safety, fairness and responsibility on and off the track.


Drivers competing

1. Australia: Anton de Pasquale
2. China: Hu An Zhu
3. Hong Kong: Matthew Solomon
4. India: Akhil Rabindra
5. Japan: Marie Iwaoka
6. Kazakhstan: Petr Borodin
7. Philippines: Medarlo Emilio Rivera
8. New Zealand: Mark Gibson
9. South Korea: Ju Won Seo
10. Sri Lanka: Damith Sanjay Weerasinghe
11. Thailand: Pattarapol Vongprai

- NZ Herald

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