First impressions can last a long time ... just ask Hawke's Bay karter Tom Bewley.

The 11-year-old Havelock North Intermediate School Year 7 student first met 2018 Supercars champion and last month's Bathurst winner Scott McLaughlin at the Hamilton-hosted national karting championships in May.

Bewley finished second in his Vortex Mini ROK class and was one of four drivers in the Tony Karts team which featured McLaughlin, a former North Island champion at junior level.

"Scott was impressed with my driving and gave me some advice, mainly about being patient," Bewley said after returning from the champs.


McLaughlin was so impressed by Bewley he selected him to be the first driver to be inducted into a young driver scholarship programme. Repco, Australia's No 1 aftermarket automotive retailer, launched the programme this week with the Shell V-Power Racing Team and part of the scholarship will involve a mentorship from McLaughlin.

The programme will see Repco assist selected young, upcoming drivers as they make their way through the motorsport ranks in Australia and New Zealand. Fellow Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard will also select a young driver to receive a similar scholarship in the near future.

Wayne Bryant, executive general manager for Repco Australia, said that "motorsport, and assisting young drivers to earn their racing stripes, is part of Repco's DNA".

"Repco is a brand that is synonymous with Motorsport across the globe, but particularly in Australia and New Zealand.

"With this scholarship, we want to assist the next generation of racers to make their way through the ranks in what can be a difficult and expensive process.

"If this programme assists us to unearth the next Scott McLaughlin or Fabian Coulthard, then we will consider it a massive success. We will watch Tom's progress with great interest."

McLaughlin said that being able to give back is something that he was enjoying immensely.

"It was only through the assistance of big companies like Repco that I was able to make it all the way through to become a fulltime race car driver. Support like this is massively important.


"Being able to mentor Tom as he navigates the world of motorsport, as well as having Repco assist him with funding, will hopefully make a big difference to this talented kid. I'm really looking forward to working with him."

Bewley is ecstatic to have been selected for the scholarship.

"I love racing, but I know it's a hard thing for my mum and dad to keep me on the track. With this Repco scholarship, and the great advice from Scott, I feel more confident and prepared than ever. Thank you very much to Repco for helping to make my dreams come true. This is going to be awesome."