NEW ZEALAND teenager Ayrton Hodson will join McElrea Racing’s strong four-car fleet for the 2024 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia Series.
The 18-year-old hails from Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty and, despite his age, comes with a strong background in both circuit racing and speedway competition.
Hodson will join fellow New Zealand rising star Clay Osborne, West Aussie Caleb Sumich and Pro-Am ace Brett Boulton in the Queensland-based squad’s four car attack next year.
Hodson’s career began on the dirt, progressing through the ranks of New Zealand Speedway in Mini stock, wingless and then winged Sprint Car competition.
His career on bitumen started this year, finishing fourth in the New Zealand Toyota Gazoo Racing 86 Championship Rookie class, including scoring a podium finish in just his fourth ever round.
He then won his class in the North Island Endurance Championship driving a BMW Z4 prior to claiming the overall NZ title, while also contesting the South Island Endurance Championship aboard a Porsche 911.1 GT3 Cup Car.
More recently, Hodson was a race winner in the opening round of the NZ GT Championship at Taupo aboard the same Porsche, having earlier qualified on the front row.
The New Zealander will compete in several key New Zealand Speedway events this summer prior to commencing his Australian campaign with McElrea in the new year.
“I’m excited to be confirmed in Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge next year in Australia,” Hodson said.
“Since first driving a Porsche in July this year I have loved every minute of it and the type of car it is.
“My goal is to secure a full-time seat somewhere in the global Porsche programme in 2025. You must have a plan and whilst they are always subject to change our plans lead nicely into why we have signed with McElrea Racing in Australia. My recent race win in our New Zealand based older model Porsche in the opening round of the Summerset GT series within the Super Sprint NZ Motorsport championship confirmed to everyone I am up for the task.”
Hodson said he picked McElrea Racing on account of their driver development track record – and international links.
“McElrea Racing have a great history in developing and nurturing pathways for their drivers,” he said.
“The US is part of our plan and Andy has extensive experience and contacts up there. Andy and Leigh are passionate about what they do, and they really want to see their drivers succeed. They want to help in any way they can, which I think is a great attribute for a team.
“My goal for 2024 is to win Sprint Challenge, we have a good testing programme in place and I’ve done a good number of miles in the 991.1 in New Zealand but we don’t underestimate the level of learning required with a new country and new tracks. With a great team supporting me there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in contention come Sydney.”
Team Owner Andy McElrea said he was pleased to welcome another fast young-gun to the McElrea Racing Sprint Challenge squad.
“Ayrton is a very talented young man with a lot of driving experience despite his age and we’re excited to have him on board for 2024,” he said.
“Michelin Sprint Challenge has proven itself time and time again to be the best proving ground for young drivers starting on the Porsche pathway – both within our team and outside of that.
“McElrea Racing now has a well-established pathway into Carrera Cup Australia or North America and we have proven that is effective. We’re really looking forward to working with Ayrton to establish his career on the Australian side of the Tasman and to watch his progression.”
The 2024 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia Series commences alongside the Shannons SpeedSeries at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in Victoria, on April 12-14.