Motorsport volunteer trades places at Hampton Downs
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Being a race driver is often considered a sport tailored exclusively for the rich. However, there are several avenues where one can prepare and campaign a race a car for a relative pittance.
One of those is the 2KCup Series; a class based around racing standard cars with a base value of $2000 or less (not including any safety implements). And it's this series that has thrown the keys for its guest car (a Toyota Levin) to one of Auckland's most dedicated volunteers for this weekend's racing at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park: 20-year-old Shiane Day.
After 11 years of playing a wide range of volunteer roles for The Motorsport Club, she's nervous but excited about the prospect.
"I hope I don't come dead last, but I'm certainly not aiming to be up the front," Day told Driven.
"It's more about learning and having fun. It'll be a different experience, having 40 other people around on the same circuit compared to the five or so I've had during practice.
"It's a good opportunity, especially for young people like me who can't afford to go racing ourselves, to get a little taste of it. I'm thankful to 2KCup for letting me race with them, and thankful to my parents and partner Carter for letting me. "
The 2KCup Series category manager, Mark Mallard, (who also owns the guest car) kick-started the plan after approaching Day during a race meeting -- although at first she thought he was joking.
"We value what the volunteers put into the sport. I was one for nearly 30 years before I got to 'cross the Armco'," said Mallard.
"I can see Shiane having a long future in the sport. To have racing knowledge will help her."
Mallard, who also races in the series, hopes that offering seat time to volunteers can become a regular fixture for the class.
"We will need to get a few sponsors on board, and maybe some support from MotorSport New Zealand to keep the scheme going. But if we can find a budget it is something we would love to do," he said.
Shiane is one of 92 drivers competing at the meeting, with the long entry list split into two groups for the two days of racing. Experience as a Targa Rally co-driver with her father Martin, as well as two coaching sessions with one of New Zealand's leading female racers, will help to ensure she's prepared for the task.
"I was lucky enough for both tests that I was able to get Christina Orr-West to come and driver coach me -- learning the circuit, where to change gears, and where I can get the most out of the car," she said.
"The car is surprisingly easy to drive. The clutch is almost identical to my Suzuki Swift."
The round also functions as the 2KCup's series finale, with Ian Wallace, Mallard, and former Porsche ace "Racing Ray" Williams separated by a mere three points.