Young international motor racing star Liam Lawson's foray in Japanese racing this year will be supported by the Tony Quinn Foundation.

The 20-year-old from Pukekohe received a grant from the TQF last year to assist with his Formula 2 racing in Europe, but will switch to Super Formula in Japan this season with continuing support announced by the trustees.

About to enter a third year of supporting New Zealand drivers through a variety of grants and scholarships, Lawson is the TQF's first signing for the new year.

"Our goal is to see success at the highest level in motorsports and we've got two drivers we support at that level, Liam obviously with a goal of Formula 1 and Hunter McElrea with a goal of IndyCar," said TQF Trustee Steve Horne. "These are our two international ambassadors and they're both one step away from reaching that final piece of the puzzle and we're happy to announce our continuing support for Liam."

"Liam's one of about four or five drivers that are pushing very hard to succeed and get into Formula 1 and I think he's probably the closest of all of them. We're excited to have him home with us at the moment and look forward to watching his new opportunity unfold in Japan."

A part of Red Bull F1's cut-throat junior programme since he turned 17, Lawson has risen through various European racing categories to be on the edge of a Formula 1 breakthrough and retains his role in 2023 of being he official test and reserve driver for both the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri teams.

In addition to his stand-by role and simulation work at Red Bull HQ, Lawson will race in the seven-round Super Formula series in Japan with Honda's championship winning Team Mugen.

"They've presented me with an opportunity to keep racing this year alongside my reserve driving role, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge," said Lawson.

While Lawson's expensive racing budget is covered he still needs to provide his own living, travel and training costs, which is where his personal sponsors and support from the TQF come into play.

"Without this support I couldn't complete my end of the bargain so I'm extremely grateful to the TQF for the continuing support and allowing me to chase my dream."

Regarded as the closest specification car to a Formula 1 machine, Super Formula has been raced in Japan for the past 50 years in various forms with only a handful of non-Japanese drivers able to crack the local stranglehold, the last being fellow Kiwi Nick Cassidy who won the championship in 2019.

Like Formula 1, the domestic Japanese series is contested by ten teams with two drivers each. All use the same chassis with engines supplied by either Honda or Toyota. Lawson will race alongside current double-champion Tomoki Nojiri in Team Mugen.

"These cars are incredibly quick with high downforce and for me it's the perfect car to race while I wait for an opportunity to enter Formula 1. I really enjoyed the post-season test and I can't wait for the official pre-season testing in early March," added Lawson.

The TQF provides hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of annual support for New Zealand motor racing, from grassroots Formula Ford racing to supporting scholarship winners in the Toyota 86 and TRS series, arranging a V8 Supercar test prize-drive and individual grants for the likes of McElrea and Lawson.

TQF and Liam Lawson
The TQF trustees with Liam Lawson. (left-right) Steve Horne, Tony Quinn, Liam Lawson, Josie Spillane, Greg Murphy and Daniel Gaunt. Photo credit: Geoff Ridder.

About Tony Quinn Foundation:

The Tony Quinn Foundation was established in 2021 by businessman Tony Quinn, the owner of Hampton Downs, Highlands and Taupo International Motorsport Parks, with the goal of supporting young Kiwi kids with the talent and determination to make it on the world stage. The foundation boasts a wealth of well-connected motorsport industry players who have joined Quinn as trustees.

The TQF has already supported:

1. The establishment of the Hampton Downs New Zealand Racing Academy [HDRA]

2.  A test drive with Triple Eight V8 Supercar team for the Toyota 86 Championship 2021 - Rowan Sheppard

3. TQF Grant of $30,000 to Matthew McCutcheon for the Toyota 86 Championship

4. TQF Travel fund and podium cheques ($60,000) for Formula Ford

5. TQF Grant to Liam Lawson to compete in FIA F2

6. TQF Grant to Hunter McElrea to compete in Indy Lights, USA

7. TQF Grant of $70,000 towards TRS for Callum Hedge for winning the HDRA TRS shoot-out.

8. TQF Grant of $37,500 towards Toyota 86 for William Exton for winning the HDRA Toyota 86 shoot-out.

9. TQF Grant to Bree Morris to compete in TRS

10. Funding grants for New Zealand drivers Liam Sceats & Hayden Bakkerus

TQF Trustees:

Tony Quinn- Businessman & owner of the Highlands, Hampton Downs, Taupo race tracks in New Zealand and Queensland Raceway, Australia. Part-owner of Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Steve Horne - Owner of former American race team Tasman Motorsports Group - competed in Indy Lights & Indy Car.

Greg Murphy - Former V8 Supercar driver.

Josie Spillane - CEO Highlands, Hampton Downs & Taupo circuits

John Gordon - Commercial Lawyer & motorsport enthusiast. Director of Limited Partnerships that fund and manage Liam Lawson