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Elite MotorSport Academy Welcomes Toyota’s Fantastic Four

No fewer than four drivers from the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship have been selected for New Zealand’s 2023 Elite MotorSport Academy, the most ever in the ten-year history of the popular series.

Top guns Clay Osborne and Dion Pitt (pictured above) – both of whom were in the fight for the championship – made the cut as did outstanding rookies Tom Bewley and Ayrton Hodson.

Clay Osborne and Dion Pitt are two of four heading to the 2023 Elite MotorSport Academy. Picture Bruce Jenkins

Osborne took the fight to championship winner Brock Gilchrist and did everything he could to secure the title, narrowing Gilchrist’s comfortable lead to just 11 points with victory in the final race of the season. Pitt showed devastating pace regularly during the championship, took three race victories and third place overall.

Bewley took one race victory during the season while Sprint Car racer Hodson came on strongly in the second half of the championship and established himself as one of the fastest drivers.

The four drivers were confirmed at the MotorSport New Zealand annual awards last weekend.

The Elite MotorSport Academy is a development programme for up and coming stars in Kiwi motorsport. Young competitors from all disciplines of the sport enjoy a 12-month academy programme, starting with an intensive week long camp in Dunedin in July.

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The Academy first ran in 2004. International stars such as Shane van Gisbergen, Hayden Paddon, Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber, Nick Cassidy, Mitch Evans, Richie Stanaway and Andre Heimgartner have all graduated from the programme and achieved outstanding success on the international stage.

“We’ve seen many young drivers secure places in the Elite MotorSport Academy before they have joined one of our championships and when they have been competitors in our categories too,” said a delighted Toyota 86 Category Manager, Amanda Tollemache.

“This year, however, has been exceptional in many ways. It is a reflection of a very strong year for Toyota 86 that Clay, Dion, Tom and Ayrton have made it into the Academy.

“It’s always rewarding from our point of view as organisers of a championship to see our drivers do so well and we wish them all the best for their journey through the next 12 months. They all have bright futures in the sport.”

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