New Zealand's Motorsport Future.
As a Member of the Motorsport Trust it was a great delight to see the skills and effort put in by the group that attended the camp this year. Eight of New Zealand's most promising motorsport talents have been honing their craft at the Elite MotorSport Academy in Dunedin.
The participants were chosen from 40 applicants, and are following in the footsteps of successful New Zealanders such as World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon and GP2 contenders Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway.
Le Mans winner Earl Bamber and runner-up Brendon Hartley also graduated from the academy in the past, as did V8 supercar driver Shane van Gisbergen.
The seven-day academy tests the applicants physically and mentally, and focuses on a wide range of skills required for high-performance sport.
Nicole Summerfield (25), of Rangiora, and Michael Read (26), of Hamilton, were two of the eight selected for the 12th installment of the academy.
Summerfield is the co-driver for younger brother Matt in the New Zealand Rally Championship, and said the programme had ''100% exceeded her expectations''.
''The reality is, if you look at all the motorsport people that are succeeding at the moment like Brendon Hartley and Hayden Paddon, they've all done this,'' she said.
''We're now getting the same tools that they got a couple of years ago. I can't even explain what tools we have now over our competitors. It's priceless.''
Summerfield and her brother, who graduated from the academy a few years ago, finished fourth in last year's NZRC, and are fourth in this year's competition with two rounds to go.
Read co-drives for Michael Young, who is also in this year's academy, in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, and for Dylan Turner in the NZRC.
He and Young are the first driver and co-driver pairing to attend the academy since it launched in 2004.
Read started co-driving seriously when he was 14. He and Young dominated the 2WD class in the APRC the past two years and are competing in the 4WD class this season.
He also said his experience in Dunedin had exceeded his expectations.
''You sort of venture into these sort of things a bit naive,'' he said.
''But to actually get the quality of teaching that we are getting has really surprised me. We're getting the same tuition that the Highlanders have got, and we're getting that tuition in our discipline.''
Both Read and Summerfield have aspirations to go professional. They would remain under contract to the academy for the next 12 months, academy trustee David Turner said.
''It doesn't stop when they leave. I will have an active role in keeping in touch with them. Every two months we will have a group conference call,'' Turner said.
''These guys are getting an opportunity that isn't available anywhere else in the world.''
The most promising graduate will be awarded the Ian Snellgrove Memorial Trophy. Snellgrove, who died in 2012, was the driving force behind the academy's establishment.