2023 Winmax Junior Drivers Announced
Winmax Brake Pads and Paddon Racing Group have joined forces for another year to support 6 up-and-coming Kiwi motorsport competitors through the Winmax Junior Driver programme.
Founded in 2021, the Winmax Junior Driver Program is a collaboration between Winmax Brake Pads and Hayden Paddons’, Paddon Racing Group, to provide young New Zealand driving talent braking products alongside tuition from Paddon.
The program supports drivers of all forms of motorsport to develop their careers at an early stage. Now in its third year, applications were considerably more than in past and selection was difficult. After plenty of debate, the recipients are:
Jonty Brenssell (25), Canvastown – New Zealand Rally Championship
Zeal Jones (18), Auckland – New Zealand Rally Championship
Mason Grimmer (22), Taupo – North Island Rally Series
Will Kitching (16), Timaru – Mazda Pro8 South Island
Jacob Cunniffe (15), Geraldine – South Island Formula Ford Series
Ben Stewart (17), Wellington – GTRNZ
23-year-old Jordan Grant was grateful for the opportunities available to him through the 2022 programme, which he says contributed to him being able to secure his debut two-wheel-drive category victory at the 2022 South Canterbury.
“The knowledge that Hayden has and being able to bounce off that is incredible and hugely valuable,” says Grant.
Jackson Clendon, age 20, also secured a two-wheel-drive category win during the 2022 rally season. His was at the International Rally of Whangarei and he also rates being able to keep in touch with Paddon throughout the season.
Clendon says: “It’s hard to get that amount of knowledge from anyone so having Hayden to ask anything I want with a solid answer and a reliable source of information, that was the biggest takeaway for me.”
For Paddon, this program is a satisfying experience. “Thanks to our strong partnership with WinmaX Brake Pads, I get the opportunity to help some of the best motorsport talents in the country to grow and develop their careers and competitive skills. Over the past two years, it was fantastic to see the difference in all six drivers’ skills and approach to competition. They all reached a new level that I hope will carry them forward strongly in the future.”
“The calibre of applications was promising for New Zealand motorsport. The selection was tough but we are proud to be supporting these 6 young drivers, all of whom are on a pathway to great things. With so many entrants, it was a challenge to pick”
Another benefit to the selected WinmaX Junior Driver programme participants is that, using various criteria over the season, one of them will earn a test drive in a Hyundai New Zealand competition car at the end of their season working with Paddon.