Mar 17, 2016
DRIVER DEVELOPMENT TEAM SET FOR APCS IN 2016
Australian Production Car Series to host two-car development team in 2016, including an ‘all-female’ entry
The Australian Production Car Series will feature a development team in 2016, with Lauren Gray Motorsport to field a two-car effort with the support of the L2P Road Ready Driving School.
The well-known production car team will run a Toyota Echo and a Toyota Corolla in the four-round national racing series, with the Echo expected to host an all-female driving line-up.
The move by LGM means that developing racers will have the opportunity to gain valuable seat-time in a national-level class that has more on-track running time than any other Australian category; under the guidance of experienced production car racers Lauren Gray, Maddison Gray and Michael Gray, and with the support of a highly-credentialed engineering and mechanical crew.
While young racers would be the most typical of applicants and one of the two cars is slated for an ‘all-female’ driving line-up, Lauren Gray said there is really no restriction on who might take up the opportunity to further develop their racing career by joining the team.
“We had planned to field a few young girls that have karting experience in our Toyota Echo in the Bathurst 6 Hour, and while that unfortunately fell through, it started discussions around how we could field a development team in the Australian Production Car Series - which runs the same eligibility specs as for production cars in the Bathurst event,” said Gray, one of Australia’s most recognised female racing car drivers having competed at the state, national and international levels.
“From there the concept just developed, and we are hoping to field two entries – a D Class Toyota Corolla and an E Class Toyota Echo - in all rounds of the APCS with developing drivers at the wheel; overseen by myself, my sister Maddison, and our dad Michael, and with the support of our highly experienced crew.
“We will mentor them, we will be there alongside them during events, and we will guide them to help foster their emerging talent and gain the seat-time, track experience and race craft they need to continue moving forward.
“When you think about that, naturally the first group that comes to mind are the young kids coming up in the game, but that isn’t necessarily where it has to be limited too; and while we are looking at running the Echo as an ‘all girl’ team if plans come together, we aren’t about restricting what we hope will be a valuable development pathway to just one gender or one age group.
“There are plenty of young guys out there as well as young girls who just need some development time, and there are grown men and women too who are looking to make their debut at Bathurst but need to achieve their national licenses first, for which running in the APCS is perfect – we are here to help all of them.”
Iain Sherrin – category manager for the Australian Production Car Series and Director of Ontic Sports – has thrown his support behind the concept and will provide marketing assistance to the team in its sponsorship seeking endeavours.
“The development pathway that we are looking to put together is something that would be very valuable to those that take part – LGM has built those cars from scratch themselves, they have been involved in production cars for 15 years, and their knowledge of the category is second to none,” said Sherrin.
“They can provide first-hand advice and tuition, not just on the driving side, but also regarding the all-important engineering and mechanical side of this game – members of their crew have both Australian and International experience in some very prestigious categories, and they have got some excellent results under their belts.
“From my personal point of view and from the category’s point of view, being able to support a development team is a very exciting thing, and the concept of an all-female team is also something that is very interesting.
“Just last year we saw Renee Gracie and Simona De Silvestro competing in the Bathurst 1000, and Renee will this year continue in the V8 Supercars Development Series.
“Not long after, the V8 Supercars announced a funded main-game drive for a female racer, while stipulating a need for performance measures to be met.
“We saw a lot of talk online at that time about how development pathways are needed earlier in the game, for both girls and boys. For instance, that is well and good to have the opportunity there, but how do you get to the level where you can take up a chance like that? How do you progress from karts to V8 Supercars, in race craft, in experience, in knowing what to do to take your career forward?”
Sherrin believes that the Australian Production Car Series can help provide the answer to a lot of these questions for young racers looking to take the next step.
“For me personally and for us as a Series, any opportunity to help assist in creating a clear development pathway to make sure the sport isn’t losing potential new stars is something that we want to be a part of,” said Sherrin.
“It is why I am happy to work with the team to hopefully help bring the budget requirements of the drivers down through securing sponsorship, and it is why we were so excited to bring the Suzuki Swift leased-drive program on-board to the Series this year as well – we want to be a place where up and coming racers can get value for money seat time and the experience they need to go racing both now, and in the future.
“We hope that with the establishment of this development team in the APCS that we can play a small part in trying to open up these development pathways at the grassroots level to assist our next generation of driving talent – both female and male – by providing access to experts alongside plenty of track-time in a national series.”