Callum Hedge to compete in 68th New Zealand Grand Prix

Callum Hedge will compete for MTEC Motorsport in this weekend’s 68th New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport Park with backing from the Tony Quinn Foundation.

The opportunity provides the 20-year-old Aucklander with some much-needed seat time ahead of his 2024 Indy NXT campaign, with his pre-season testing schedule impacted by an untimely bout of appendicitis and poor weather in the United States.

“I tested the other day at Laguna Seca and did about 20 laps and was a little sore,” Hedge said on his recovery. “That cleared up about an hour or two afterwards, which was good. I went to the doctors the day following, and they gave me the all-clear.

“I’ve done a lot of travelling since and haven’t had any issues. I’ve been to the gym and feel like I’ve recovered. The body feels good.”

Hedge’s Manager, Mark Pilcher, helped the drive come to fruition, securing further backing from Heartland Potato Chips and the Geraldine Cheese Company for the three-race round.

“The idea came about once we realised there was going to be an available chassis,” he said.

“Having Hedge in the Grand Prix field is a strength for the championship, and it’s important for New Zealand motor racing to have another Kiwi in with a chance to win it.

“To race at a circuit like this, which is bumpy, unforgiving, and has concrete walls, is also a perfect lead into St Petersburg, which is exactly why Bryce Aron and Jacob Abel are here.”

The drive was also made possible due to the support of Toyota GAZOO Racing NZ. All parties working together have made it happen at a pace. A strong illustration of the strong relationship between TQF and Toyota.

Hedge arrives in New Zealand this Friday, having completed a Porsche Ice Experience in Finland earlier this week, which was part of his prize for winning the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.

He lands in Auckland at 5.30 am on Friday before heading south to Cromwell.

“I land in Queenstown at 8.40, which gives me about an hour to get to the track before first practice,” said Hedge. “If the flight has no delays and I can make it to the track in time, I’ll jump in for a skid.

“I’ll have a nap in the middle of Friday, cut some laps, and go from there.”

In January last year, Hedge won the opening race of the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship at Highlands. He finished sixth in the reverse top-eight grid race before rear suspension damage forced him to the lane in the finale.

He ultimately finished as runner-up in the 2023 championship, with his drive made possible by a $70,000 grant for winning the Tony Quinn Foundation Shootout.

The Foundation has since extended its support of the Kiwi, backing his 2023 Formula Regional Americas title-winning campaign, his upcoming 2024 Indy NXT season, and now, his 2024 New Zealand Grand Prix cameo.

“I wouldn’t be racing this weekend without their support,” said Hedge. “It’s cool to be one of their drivers. I really appreciate their support, especially continuing into 2024. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to make this happen. I really owe a lot to them.”

With the addition of Hedge, the 18-strong New Zealand Grand Prix grid features three 2024 Indy NXT drivers, with Andretti Global’s Bryce Aron and Abel Motorsport’s Jacob Abel also competing.

Fifteen others from eight different countries join the trio, including Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship leader Roman Bilinski, American F4 champion Patrick Woods-Toth, and 2022 Chinese F4 champion Gerrard Xie.

Kiwi talents Liam Sceats, Kaleb Ngatoa, Alex Crosbie and Sebastian Manson are also on the entry list, looking to add their names to the prestigious trophy alongside the likes of current Formula 1 stars Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and Liam Lawson.

Also on the bill for this weekend’s Round 6 of the Super Sprint Motorsport New Zealand Championship at Highlands Motorsport Park is the finale of the Trans-Tasman TA2 Series, the Summerset GT New Zealand Championship, the Mazda Racing Series, and the Toyota 86 Championship.

Other track action includes demonstration laps of Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway’s Bathurst 1000-winning Gen3 Camaro, Tony Quinn’s Aston Martin Vulcan and a 2006 Audi Sport DTM Car, which Greg Murphy will run.

Callum Hedge 68th NZ Grand Prix