New SpeedSport Scholarship winner, James Webb, will make his national motor racing debut at Taupo this weekend when he lines up on the grid of the New Zealand Formula First championship.
Earlier this year the 15-year-old Feilding High School student became the 13th annual winner of this country's most prestigious motor racing prize.
The former kart racer is relishing the opportunity of switching from karts to cars and tackling the new challenges that lay ahead.
"I'm really looking forward to racing with a lot of different people and learning the new race tracks over the season," said Webb.
"Doing the winter series has really helped me learn the car and get to know my team. I find Pete my mechanic very easy to talk to, and I'm learning so much about racing these cars. I can't wait to go racing this weekend."
Prior to the Taupo round, Webb finished runner-up in the low-profile Manfeild Winter Series as part of his preparation for the 8-round national series.
"The scholarship drivers have been contesting the Winter Series for the past few years. It's a good way to introduce our new drivers to the Formula First racing cars, the team and what happens during a car racing weekend, as most of our scholarship winners have come from karting, or some other junior motorsport," said co-founder Grant McDonald.
Having launched the careers of some of New Zealand's most successful young motor racing stars, McDonald says that Webb is fully aware of the opportunity the scholarship can offer him.
"James knows the more effort he puts in during his scholarship year the better he'll be prepared to move on and try his hand at a motorsport career. And that mean a lot of off-track commitment as well as on-track.
"Every winner starts with the same opportunity; it's down to how they use that to further themselves," said McDonald
During his SpeedSport Scholarship year, Webb will be under the guidance of the Sabre motorsport team and it's owner and scholarship co-founder, Dennis Martin.
For the first time since the scholarship's inception, both the winner and the runner-up will be contesting the Formula First championship as teammates.
Taupo teenager Faine Kahia, 16, will join with Webb in a four-strong car lineup for the Sabre team.
The SpeedSport Scholarship is New Zealand's most successful young driver development program with eight of the 12 graduates still active in motor racing, including international stars Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway; double NZ Grand Prix winner Nick Cassidy and V8 SuperTourer driver, Andrew Waite.
Valued at $50,000, the scholarship provides the winner with a fully-funded season competing in the national Formula First championship, the Manfeild Winter Series, a customised race suit from Chicane - complete with racing boots and gloves - and a brand new Arai race helmet.
Dennis Martin 06 355 4055 or 021 216 5815
Grant McDonald 027 227 3554