Kiwis abroad have done us proud in 2014

Stuff.co.nz

There was no shortage of podium finishes as New Zealand drivers continued to make their marks in major motorsport around the world.

From Scott Dixon in the IndyCar Series to Mitch Evans in the GP2s, from Richie Stanaway in the GP3s to Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley in their Porsches New Zealand’s rich heritage continued at full throttle.

Dixon was disappointed that he couldn’t defend his IndyCars title and that he crashed out of the famous Indy 500.

But there were still two wins, a pole, four podiums and 11 top-5 efforts to prove that he remains a force in a series that switches from ovals to street circuits.

It all added up to Dixon keeping alive his streak of finishing in the top-three in points every year dating back to 2006. He earned himself another contract with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Mitch Evans was full of anticipation in his second year at GP2 level as he signed for defending team champions Russian Time.

The 20-year-old Aucklander proved that when his team, under new management, got the car right, he was as good as any driver with his aggressive style.

Sadly there were too many inconsistencies for him to mount a championship challenge though six podium efforts, including back to back feature wins at Silverstone and Hockenheimring were testimony to his ability on the glamour tracks.

They were also proof that he could one day fulfil his dream of attracting Formula One interest.

Stanaway’s season a level below in GP3 was even more frustrating.

He was right in the title hunt at the halfway stage, buoyed by a feature win in Hungary and sprint win in Britain. But just four championship points in the final six races saw him limp out of contention.

Bamber proved the driver to bring home the titles in 2014 with a classy hat-trick in the highly competitive Porsche Carrera class that also used the Formula One meetings to showcase its cars and talent.

Operating on the highly sought after Porsche scholarship worth 20,000 Euros, Bamber dominated around the world.

He clinically defended his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title and then set his sights on the Porsche Supercup.

He quickly secured enough points to guarantee himself the rookie of the year title and then trumped that by claiming the drivers scholarship.

His reward was a full works drive with Porches in 2015, where he will join a lineup that includes Hartley.

Having pushed his career as hard as he could in the single-seater area Hartley proved increasingly comfortable and competitive in the endurance racing scene where he was at the front end of his manufacturer’s increased interest.

That included Porsches running two 919 Hybrids in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship.

Not surprisingly technical issues dogged the high-tech cars as Porsche fought time constraints to get them competitive.

When they were good, they were very good. And so was Hartley as he set the fastest qualifying lap for the famous Le Mans 24 hours race. He has his two co-drivers took that edge on to the track where they were battling for the lead before being forced to retire with technical issues in the 22nd hour, while in second position.

On the rally scene Hayden Paddon is hoping his promising first foray into the highest level of the sport can see him become a force in 2015.

The former production car world champion drove six WRC events in an exciting deal with Hyundai Motorsport.

He collected 19 points across five of those events to finish 14th overall.

Kiwis abroad have done us proud in 2014

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    • Ash Price
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      Great coverage of the Kiwis overseas. Can you keep all us keen readers informed of progress with firming up on their 2015 drives as often as possible? Esp Richie Stanaway, who I hope can get back on top after the disappointing 2nd half of 2014.

      Thanks very much!

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