Ricciardo’s bid to find our next star
Daniel Ricciardo has invested in producing a new wave of top Australian race drivers, with talented juniors to be given the chance to drive his own branded go-karts in Europe.
Perth’s Formula One sensation has launched the Ricciardo Kart for global sale in a nod to his grassroots, having learnt his trade racing in WA’s low-profile karting scene.
The line of vehicles is being manufactured in northern Italy, about 1km from the famous Monza circuit.
An official race team will compete in the European and world karting championships under the banner of the Ricciardo Kart Factory Team starting this year.
Junior racers from Australian ranks will be given preference to drive for the team in coming years, with Ricciardo keen to put his money where his mouth is by helping youngsters follow his path on to the inter- national scene.
A team boasting up to 10 drivers will also be entered in the Australian karting championships starting in April.
Jack Doohan, the 12-year-old son of motorcycle racing legend Mick Doohan, will drive a Ricciardo Kart this year in the national junior competition.
Ricciardo started racing go-karts in Wanneroo as a nine-year-old and has publicly spoken about wanting to inspire young drivers.
The potential multi- million-dollar venture will build on the Red Bull driver’s growing marketability on the back of finishing third in last year’s F1 championship.
Initial sales are on track to make the brand the biggest selling kart in Australia in its first year of operations.
“I grew up racing karts and even when I moved up to single-seaters I never stopped supporting this sport, always enjoying some kart racing in my spare time, ” Ricciardo said.
“Being able to follow the design and construction of a kart from a blank sheet to track debut is an adventure that’s very fascinating.”
Ricciardo has been involved in the vehicle’s design and production in conjunction with manufacturer BirelART. The karts boast a distinctive white frame along with the colour blue as a nod towards his love of Perth’s picturesque coastline.
Close friend and business partner Michael Patrizi said the venture had been two years in the making.
“We hope one day we can foster some young Australian drivers into that team through our team in Australia and then directly into Europe, ” Patrizi said.
“The program is the first real chance that any of our drivers get a proper preference and opportunity to go that next step into Europe and become a professional racing driver.”
Ricciardo will start his 2015 championship tilt on home soil at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.
© The West Australian
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