Young Australian racers Nick Foster and Richard Muscat have returned to home shores following their participation in the Porsche Motorsport Junior Programme Shootout – and they have hit the ground running.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Australia drivers returned from their evaluation in the Junior Programme Shootout on Wednesday night before traveling to Bathurst for Thursday morning practice, which Foster and Muscat were third and seventh fastest, respectively.
As part of a two-day selection process for the Shootout, Foster, Muscat and seven other talented young race drivers from around the world showcased their skills at Lausitzring, Germany. The young hopefuls took part in driving tests in the 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and conducted discussions with experts, which will all be evaluated over the next few weeks to determine a winner.
The most promising talented young driver receives funding of 200,000 Euro as well as comprehensive support: On the programme are fitness tests with regularly adapted training plans as well as media coaching and sponsor obligations. The winner will contest the 2016 season of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
Foster was thrilled to be given the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of Porsche Motorsport.
“It was a phenomenal experience and a privilege to not only be part of the Shootout, but also to work so closely with Porsche Motorsport and see the level of professionalism that comes with running with the factory,” said Foster.
“There were eight other drivers who were just as fast and deserving to be there as I was so it will be interest to see how I fare. I did the best I could and we’ll find out who Porsche Motorsport ultimately picks in a few weeks.”
Muscat was also impressed with his Shootout experience.
“It was an amazing opportunity to work with everyone from Porsche Motorsport. It was an eye opener; it was certainly a different experience and something that has made me hungrier to compete at that level. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot from it,” said Muscat.
A prime example of a successful talent promotion within the Porsche motorsport pyramid is Earl Bamber. The New Zealander launched his career as a Porsche privateer in the GT3 Cup Challenge New Zealand and then switched to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, where he secured the title in 2013 and was nominated for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup talent scout initiative. As a Porsche Junior, Bamber won the Supercup in 2014, defended the title in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia that same year and earned himself a contract as a Porsche works driver. In June 2015, he won the world’s most famous long distance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the wheel of the 919 Hybrid.
Now, the hopeful young aspirants at the shootout are eager to follow in his footsteps. “Bamber is a perfect role model. Every race driver dreams of such a career,” was the unanimous sentiment of all participants. These young hotshots know that the Porsche scholarship might open the door to becoming a works driver. The non-Australian aspirants also in the running for the scholarship are Mathieu Jaminet (20) from Woippy near Metz representing the Porsche Carrera Cup France. Twenty-one-year-old Riccardo Agostini from Padova was nominated for the selection process by Porsche Carrera Cup Italia. Josh Webster (21) from Stowmarket, England, represents Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain. Mikkel Overgaard Pedersen (18) from the Danish town of Struer was sent as a delegate of Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia. Yuya Motojima (24) from Nagoya, who has just concluded his season in the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan, travelled as the Japanese champion to the Lausitz. Germany’s Nico Menzel (17), who lives in Kelberg in der Eifel, contested this year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and was selected to represent this one-make cup series. Elliott Skeer (21) from Carlsbad in America received an invitation to the shootout after his excellent performances as champion of the GT3 Cup Challenge USA.
“With nine strong drivers it’ll be a tough decision for us. Fast lap times are equally as important as how they conduct themselves away from the race track. The talented youngsters are nominated by countries and regions in which a Porsche one-make cup is contested and who have the potential to be successful at an international level. We will analyse all parameters in order to select the best candidate,” said Andrea Hagenbach, Manager of the Porsche Motorsport Junior Programme.
Talent scout initiatives have a long tradition at Porsche Motorsport. Using this path, many scholarship pilots have managed to climb the career ladder into international GT and prototype racing. The Porsche Motorsport Junior Programme gives drivers from the worldwide Porsche one-make cups the chance to earn themselves a season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The Supercup serves as a launching platform into a professional racing career.