The Australian Motor Sport Foundation has expressed its pleasure with the progress of the revamped CAMS Rising Star program, following Garry Jacobson's Victorian Formula Ford Championship victory last weekend at Phillip Island.
2010 has seen major changes for the driver development operation, with Minda Motorsport taking over car preparation duties, and four rookie drivers forming the youngest ever Rising Stars squad.
Despite their lack of experience, national championship drivers Matthew Brabham and Jack Le Brocq have both featured in the top ten at various times during the season, with Le Brocq well placed to fight for the Rookie of the Year honours over the final three rounds.
Meanwhile, state level competitors Liam Sager and Garry Jacobson were both in contention to win the Victorian title last weekend, where Jacobson emerged on top.
According to AMSF General Manager Martin Stillman, the AMSF is highly pleased with Minda Motorsport's efforts during the team's first season running the Rising Stars.
"The AMSF has been delighted to be associated with Minda Motorsport in 2010 as the motorsport service provider for the CAMS Rising Star program," said Stillman.
"Borland Racing Developments had done an outstanding job with the Rising Stars over the last six seasons, but when we went through the tender process at the end of last year we felt that, moving forward into the next three year period, Minda were the best fit with the program.
"Bruin Beasely (team principal) and Andrew McInnes (commercial manager) are both extremely professional, and have brought new ideas and injected new enthusiasm into the CAMS Rising Star program." With all four drivers being new to Formula Ford in 2010, Stillman said that it was unfair to expect a continuation of the sort of results seen from the Rising Stars in recent seasons.
"It's an interesting year because we've had four rookies in the program for the first time," he said.
"We don't have a lead driver like we did in previous years, with the likes of Scott Pye, John Martin, Daniel Erickson or Ashley Walsh.
"This year, the funding structure through CAMS was such that we were able to fund two national drivers and two state drivers.
"So similar to a Red Bull type development program, we are looking at state drivers rolling up into the national program in due course." While 2010 is being viewed as a development year, Stillman is keen to see the Rising Stars once again challenging for the prestigious Australian Formula Ford Championship next season.
"We set a number of goals for our drivers this year, one of which was to win the Victorian state series," said Stillman.
"We have to be mindful that both Matthew and Jack are rookie drivers, so it'd be unrealistic to expect them to win the national championship in their first year.
"In essence you'd always like to have a lead driver in your program who can take a rookie driver under his wing and fast-track their development.
"However, when we looked at the drivers we were considering for 2010, we were happy to look at this particular season as a development year, and give the national drivers every opportunity to have a tilt at the championship in 2011."
-source: damon hill