An ever-increasing number of New Zealand drivers and riders are doing great things in numerous categories around the world. The Herald looks at Kiwi motorsport’s outstanding achievements of the past year.
Notched his fourth world endurance championship in 2023 and is now regarded as one of the best long-distance racers. He also made it inside the Autosport top 50 drivers of the year on the back of victories in the 6 Hours of Portimao and 8 Hours of Bahrain, in addition to finishing runner-up in the 1000 Miles of Sebring, 6 Hours of Fuji and 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
If there was a world title for perseverance and not letting bad luck get you down, the Otago 27-year-old would have another trophy to go alongside her fourth women’s world motocross championship. Duncan has been plagued by injuries during her WMX career and could easily be an eight-time world champion. In each of the years she missed out, Duncan was leading the title chase when misfortune struck.
Grabbed his opportunity when thrust into a Formula 1 start after Daniel Ricciardo injured himself. With no seat time and in challenging conditions on a grunter of a track in the Netherlands, Lawson finished a creditable 13th in his first F1 start. By his third race, he was in the points before handing the car back to Ricciardo. He also finished second in Japanese Super Formula. Lawson will no doubt be an F1 star of the future.
Liam Lawson at the Netherlands grand prix. Photo / Getty Images
Shane van Gisbergen
Being a big fish in the relatively small pond of Supercars is notable enough. To then take on the best in top racers in the hardest of saloon car categories is a big ask. But the three-time Supercars champion and Bathurst winner upset the Nascar field on the streets of Chicago to win on debut. Nascar Cup champion Chase Elliott said: “He made me look bad, and I kind of think the rest of us, too. He’s going to go home and tell all his friends how bad we are.”
The 20-year-old achieved an unusual and possible world first by winning championships on two continents in the same year. After finishing runner-up in the Castrol Toyota Formula regional Oceania championship, Hedge won the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia title and the Formula regional Americas championship. Despite proving himself in a Porsche, Hedge is heading to the United States to contest Indy NXT, a feeder series for IndyCar.
Hayden Paddon and John Kennard became the first non-Europeans to win the European rally championship. Scott Dixon is still a perennial championship favourite and has won at least one IndyCar race for the past 18 years and not finished a season outside the top six since 2006. Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans had a stellar Formula E series. Matthew Payne is set to be the next Kiwi Supercars star and Louis Sharp won the British Formula 4 title.
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