Eight rising stars of New Zealand motorsport will have the opportunity to further their motorsport aspirations as part of the class of 2017 at the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy.

Applications for next year's Elite Motorsport Academy programme have opened and while applications don't close until 17 March next year, the trustees of the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust, which manages the Academy, urge applicants to submit their application early so their racing exploits over the summer months can be monitored and assessed.

The Elite Motorsport Academy first ran in 2004 with race drivers Nelson Hartley, Christina Orr, Andy Knight and Tim Edgell among the selected participants that year.

"Since then, many Kiwi motorsport stars who regularly make news headlines around New Zealand and the world, such as Shane Van Gisbergen, Hayden Paddon, Brendon Hartley, Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway, have graduated from the only training academy of its kind in New Zealand," says Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand and a trustee of the Scholarship Trust. "We know from other motorsport governing bodies around the world, that our Elite Motorsport Academy is held in high regard, so New Zealand competitors can be assured of a truly world-class programme which will make a significant difference to their ability to further their motorsport aspirations."

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Trustee David Turner puts out the call to all race and rally drivers (and co-drivers), karters and other four-wheel motorsport competitors to prepare their Academy application.

"The Elite Motorsport Academy offers you the chance to have some of the best service providers in the country assist you in your professional development as a motorsport competitor. The Academy isn't about teaching you to drive a race car - you have proven your talents prior to your selection. We aim to add to your toolbox of skills around the mental training, fitness, sponsorship and marketing, nutrition and media skills needed to succeed in this sport.

"While there is a natural focus on the Academy camp in Dunedin in July where you will learn an incredible amount from tutors at the Academy of Sport South Island and the University of Otago's School of Physical Education's Human Performance Centre, the programme provides a tailored twelve-month follow-up package for the Academy graduates to ensure you retain and further develop the training regimes and educational opportunities demonstrated during the camp."

Turner says earlier graduates will testify to the large stepping stone that the Academy will create for graduates determined to make a career in motorsport. "You will also enjoy the long-standing friendships that are formed as being part of the Academy."

Turner suggests competitors who have applied in the past may wish to consider applying again. "It's important that you do not feel like you cannot apply again, because you can and should."

Applications are now open with more information and the application form available on the Academy page of MotorSport New Zealand's website, www.motorsport.org.nz.

"We urge prospective applicants to take the time to look at the Academy information on the website and see what it has to offer," Turner says. "Speak to others who have attended and listen to all they got from it - how can it benefit you as well? One only has look back at the earlier graduates and see the levels many of them have attained in our domestic motorsport series and around the world.

"This is a great chance to be one of the select few that can be classed as Elite Motorsport Academy graduates and I urge you all to apply and see what it can do for you in 2017."