Rising teenage motor racing star Liam Lawson is continuing to impress on the international stage with support from the Porter Group.
The 16-year-old from Pukekohe was first given sponsorship support last year for his debut season in Formula 4 open-wheel racing when he entered the Australian championship. He went on to finish runner-up in that series with a string of podiums and race wins. His Australian success followed up a season at home of Formula Ford racing, now referred to as NZ F1600, taking a remarkable 14 wins from 15 championship races to become, at the time, the world's youngest Formula Ford champion.
After his success in New Zealand, Lawson ventured to the USA to compete in the 'Road to Indy Shootout' which carried a $US200,000 prize package. At 15 years old, Lawson upsurged the 17 other invited young champions from around the world and set the fastest lap times throughout the two-day competition. While the organisers chose an older competitor, the young Kiwi made a huge impression and invitations from no less than a dozen race teams based from all over the globe followed, all eager to sign him for various championships.
Lawson's ambition since a young age is to race at the highest level, Formula One, and he then set about with his supporters to access racing options in Europe. The decision was made to test him for the toughest Formula 4 championship in the world, the German series, which is keenly watched by the talent scouts of Formula One teams.
In February he tested for Dutch based team Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) and was less than one-tenth of a second off the pace of their fastest and most experienced driver, Frederik Vesti of Denmark.
Returning to New Zealand, Lawson gathered support from a group of supporters and sponsors, including the Porter Group, and returned a month later to start the series with little testing, compared to his rivals.
The unknown kid from 'down-under' was immediately on the pace and scored his first podium at the opening round of the series at Oschersleben. Since then, Lawson has racked up the most podiums of all 22 drivers in the series with 9 top-3 finishes from 14 races, including 3 victories.
"I am extremely grateful to the Porter Group for their continued support of my racing programme. They helped me in Australia last year and to continue with me in Europe is awesome. I can't thank Robin and Murray enough for the belief they have in me and I'm so proud to have the Porter Group on my car," said Liam.
With just six races to go, Lawson is currently 2nd in the championship behind German driver Lirim Zendeli, who is now in his third season, and he is the top VAR driver, clearly ahead of second year driver, Vesti.
He recently competed at the German F1 Grand Prix round at Hockenheim where he scored his first pole position, but in that race was hit from behind by another competitor on the opening lap - the resulting trip to pit lane to replace a punctured tyre allowing his rival Zendeli to clear away for the win. That stretched the points gap between the pair to 46 points. Lawson however finished 2nd in the opening race, that time ahead of Zendeli.
"We were chasing him [Zendeli] down but now the task is a lot harder. It's still mathematically possible to win the championship," said Liam. "I'm just focused on each race ahead and we'll fight to the very end."
Still, regardless of the outcome, the young Kiwi has made huge impressions in the star-studded field, showing some of the best racing moves seen in the series. In one race he came from last, again after being taken out by another competitor, to finish a fighting 5th. In another, he shot from 3rd to score a race win on the final lap.
And at the Hockenheim F1 GP he was lucky enough to be invited to lunch with Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel.
With continued success and support in the coming years, he is well on target to one day reach his dream of being in the main game.