South Africa's inaugural MSA Motorsport Development Academy underway

18 top young South African race drivers are raring to go on first MSA Motorsport Development Academy Motorsport South Africa’s inaugural MSA Motorsport Development Academy got underway at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre Sunday morning 3 July as 18 of the country’s top young race drivers gathered to commence an intensive three-day session that will be followed be a period of monitoring and evaluation of each driver through to the end of the 2016 race season.“Can you tell me the value of this program?” MSA Sporting Services Officer Wayne Riddell quizzed the participants, with most drivers hazarding a fiscal guess. “Let me tell you — it is priceless — you cannot pay money for what you will learn here — you have a brilliant opportunity — make best use of it.”

The delegates were then split into two groups of nine before alternating between the first two Academy modules — a physical assessment in the HPC lab and a team building exercise each side of lunch before returning to the hotel for dinner. Monday sees the groups once again split between an advanced driving module and a series on lectures on the likes of dealing with the media, sponsorship and their professional responsibilities, all with a strong emphasis on road safety and their role in promoting saver driving at all levels.

The three days of the Academy close after a further series of practical and theoretical modules on Tuesday evening, from where each driver will be monitored on their progress through the rest of the race season before follow-up assessment at the High Performance Centre in November.

“The MSA Motorsport Development Academy begins with these three days of intensive training,” Academy convenor Steve Harding explained. “But it does not end there by any means — the objective is to see the lads progress based on what they learn here and we will be monitoring them closely form here on and into the future. “The Academy also focuses closely on road safety, an aspect we expect our drivers to promote, endorse and influence vigorously throughout their race careers and beyond.”

The eighteen drivers selected include the only lady racer, Classic car racer Paige Lindenberg, while 15-year old Cape GTi Challenge racer Giordano Lupini is the youngest driver selected and fellow Cape Formula Supercar racer Dayne Angel is the oldest. Six Engen VW Polo Cup divers are the most selected from a single racing category, with Bradley Liebenberg, Brad Benningfield, Shorter brothers Chris and Matt, and Oates brothers Darren and Justin represented and BMW Club Racing Series is chargers Julian Familiaris and Willie Erasmus round off the tin-top racers selected to the Academy.

Five single-seater drivers; SA European Formula 3 racer Raoul Hyman, SA Formula Ford championship leader Julian Van Der Watt, Tristan de Nobrega Delano Fowler and Siyabonga Mankonkwana are balanced off by off-track motorsportsmen, Cross Country racer Gareth Woolridge and SA National Rally regular Richard Leeke.The FIA’s support ensures that the elite 3-day programme will run at no cost to the selected drivers, who will continue to be monitored for the remainder of the season and will be expected to take a follow-up fitness test at the HPC at the end of the season.