Young Aussie denied NZ motorsport Scholarship win

In a disappointing display of blatant nepotism, New Zealand motorsport judges overlooked 17 year old Australian Daniel Plummer’s performance to award a motorsport scholarship to 20 year old New Zealander, Malcolm Finch.
June 1, 2011 - PRLog -- Aussie school boy and racer Daniel Plummer has returned home empty handed from the run-offs for the SpeedSport New Zealand Formula First scholarship despite being consistently the fastest in every assessed session.  

On offer was a fully funded year of racing Formula First in New Zealand.  In a disappointing display of blatant nepotism, judges overlooked 17 year old Daniel’s performance to award the scholarship to 20 year old New Zealander, Malcolm Finch.  Finch has competed for the last 3 years in the SCCC Spec Miata (Mazda MX-5) championships in USA with wins and podiums to his credit at the national level, and is the son of 1978/1979 NZ formula ford champion Mike Finch, a friend of the scholarship senior judge, Murray McLaren.  Despite this background, Finch proved incapable of bettering the lap times set by Daniel.

“It was a pretty interesting decision” said Daniel on the result.  “There seemed to be a reward for every New Zealander there. The Judges even gave a commendation to one local entrant who couldn’t even keep the car on the track. They obviously have some significant issues with Australians over there and it’s hard not to feel disgusted”.

“We were probably naïve in thinking that there may have been any other outcome” said Daniel’s father. “Obviously with the lack of transparency in the overall assessment process and no documented guidelines or rules as to how the drivers should be assessed, it’s not possible for the judges to actually cheat.  

He further explained "I thought something was up when the folk running the Scholarship kept changing the emphasis of the scholarship assessment throughout the day.  In the first briefing it was all about the “scholarship being won by tenths of seconds” and if you look at last year’s scholarship that’s exactly how it was decided.  Daniel came in from the first run half a second clear of everyone, which had his nearest competitor (and eventual scholarship “winner”) asking for “success ballast on Daniel’s car”.  The subsequent driver’s briefing then emphasised “that assessment wasn’t just based on lap times”.

After Daniel pasted them in the non-driving assessments, I got the distinct impression that one judge in particular was focussed on finding a reason to deny Daniel the Scholarship, with the hope that one of the New Zealanders could do enough to justify the award.  At the announcement of the winner, there was no justification at all! In the end it was just “this guy won, and this guy (who had not once even got remotely close to Daniel’s lap times) is runner-up!  Generally we would just take it on the chin and move on – but we’d hate to see other Aussies heading over there with an expectation of fair and equitable treatment.”

“We now are planning to undertake some Formula Ford tests here in Australia and see if I can get up to pace in that category, and put this behind us as a learning experience” said Daniel.

Despite just one test day in the car prior to the opening round of the NZ National Championship, Daniel won the prestigious Bob Bell memorial trophy and the Novice Cup in his first season of Formula First in New Zealand which came to a close in April this year.  The NZ National championship season spans from August through to April each year.
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Tags:New Zealand, Australia, Motorsport Scholarship
Location:Melbourne - Victoria - Australia
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