GREG MURPHY RATES EMERGING DRIVER AS TALENT TO WATCH
Twenty-year-old Jack Milligan was handed the opportunity of a lifetime this week when he was crowned the victor of the inaugural CareVets Racing Scholarship.
The Christchurch local was one of 12 young drivers put through an intensive day of testing at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park during the week, with his balance of scores across the tests winning him a funded drive in the upcoming Toyota 86 Championship.
Milligan told Driven his goals are to clinch the Rookie of the Year title in his debut season, and build towards challenging for the overall title in 2017-18.
"[The goal is] to be really consistent during the season, and to get rookie of the year," he said.
"The ultimate goal would be to win the series, I think it would be good publicity.
"I'm with this team for two years, so I want to grab the opportunity with both hands."
The Christchurch-based driver is a regular front-runner in the South Island Pro7 series. Photo / supplied
Milligan is no stranger to the race track, with experience in karting and the South Island Pro7 series for Mazda RX-7s.
But his connection to racing runs deeper, as he has experience as a race mechanic in New Zealand and overseas.
The second-year apprentice builder was the No. 2 mechanic for the 2014 Toyota Racing Series championship-winning combination of Neale Motorsport and Singaporean driver Andrew Tang. He has also worked with McElrea Racing in the Australasian GT Championship.
Among the scholarship judging panel was four-time Bathurst 1000 champion Greg Murphy, who rated Milligan very highly.
"Jack's a clear winner -- he's hard-working and learns quickly," said Murphy.
"The drivers who made it to the assessment all showed great potential, especially a couple of the younger drivers who didn't have a lot of experience with manual gear-shifting. I'm looking forward to seeing the next steps all our drivers take."
The single-make Toyota 86 Series that Milligan will join has experienced a surge of growth over the past season after a hesitant launch into the New Zealand motorsport landscape in 2013.
"There's obviously heaps of cars, and they're all the same. Plus I think it's well promoted with the television coverage," said Milligan.
"It's a series that's really good for New Zealand motorsport."