Nelson teenager karter Lochiel (Lochy) McGregor has the chance to follow in the footsteps of rising Kiwi motorsport stars like Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong after earning selection to a global FIA series.
McGregor is one of 51 drivers from 50 countries selected for the prestigious FIA Karting Academy Trophy, a three-round international series, which attracted the likes of F1 drivers Charles LeClerc, Esteban Ocon and George Russell and FIA Karting Champions Marijn Kremers and Callum Bradshaw.
The 14-year-old is just the third New Zealander to earn selection to the global academy series, following Christchurch’s Jacob Douglas in 2019 – now driving professionally out of Indianapolis – and fellow Cantabrian Louis Sharp who has just signed with renowned Carlin Racing, the same organisation as Lawson.
McGregor will compete in three rounds in Europe in May, June and September in Belgium, Italy and finally at Le Mans in France in September.
The FIA Karting Academy Trophy attracts the best young talent from all over the world and rewards the racing talent of the participants over financial aspects. The drivers are aged 12 to 14 years and represent their respective countries in one-design karts drawn at random, with OTK chassis, Vortex DVSJ engines and LeCont tyres. The engines are swapped at random between races and events to ensure that the best driving talent can emerge.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and we had some nervous nights waiting for the selection,” said Lochy’s father Denver McGregor. “Once the selection was confirmed, it was a mad dash to complete the paperwork and start the preparation to get to Europe.
“New Zealand haven’t been able to enter for the past two years due to Covid and this is Lochy’s last year of eligibility. We are so excited to get this opportunity to put Lochy on an even playing field. We know he has the skills, focus and drive to be successful, he just needs opportunities like this to show that. Fortunately, he is familiar with the Academy engine as it is identical to the Vortex ROK DVSJ engine we race in New Zealand.”
It means the family face a short timeframe to attract the potential $80,000 budget for the three trips to Europe, and costs for a mechanic and management support.
“That’s the huge job ahead. We will be actively searching for sponsorship to bring this dream to life. Our heads are spinning a bit now to get things in place in a short time.”
The Year 10 student from Waimea College has only been involved in karting for five years after attending a Have A Go Session at the KartSport Nelson track.
The early development led them to former British Karting Champion and KartSport New Zealand Academy Director Tiffany Chittenden from TC Performance as his coach. That in turn led the Kartstore Team, the Christchurch-based karting business run by multi national and international karting champion Matt Hamilton.
McGregor developed quickly and has been moving up the classes. He has won multiple events and this year is competing in the WPKA Goldstar series in the North Island, where he won the Grand Prix in the Wellington event at the weekend and is currently first equal overall in series points with one round remaining.
If finances permit, they plan to compete in the remaining round of the development series in Hawkes Bay and the WPKA Championships in Manawatu, which are set in between their European racing dates.
“The plan is to go over each time. We can’t commit to stay in Europe for the whole time, so will come back home for school and compete here if we can to keep him race-tuned.
“We know this is an amazing honour and an incredible life experience and opportunity for Lochy to enjoy – and our only opportunity to potentially put him in front of the right people for him to get to the places he wants to be. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and now we need to make it happen.”