Callum Hedge

Callum Hedge is less than three weeks away from his INDY NXT by Firestone debut with HMD Motorsports, and he’s entering the 2024 season with momentum after placing second Feb. 18 in the New Zealand Grand Prix.

The 68th New Zealand Grand Prix is the crown jewel of the Formula Regional Oceania Championship in New Zealand, which features Formula 3 open-wheel cars. Winners of the race have included Formula One legends Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Keke Rosberg.

Hedge, driving for the MTEC Motorsport team, finished second behind fellow Kiwi and former school classmate Liam Sceats of M2 Competition in the 27-lap race at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, New Zealand. INDY NXT by Firestone veteran Jacob Abel of Abel Motorsports placed fourth for the MTEC team.

Sceats and Hedge started 1-2, with Hedge staying in close pursuit at the green flag. By the fourth lap, Sceats built a lead of just over one-half second.

Tire management became crucial over the last 20 laps in the searing summer heat of New Zealand. Sceats and Hedge pulled away from the rest of the pack, which included Abel and fellow INDY NXT by Firestone driver Bryce Aron of Andretti Global.

Sceats and Hedge traded fastest laps to build their lead to four seconds over the rest of the field at the halfway point. Sceats carved out a 1.2-second lead with 10 laps to go, and he padded that gap by nearly three-tenths of a second per lap the rest of the race, winning by 5.65 seconds.

Hedge then was forced to resist a challenge from Michael Shin of South Korea, who pulled up to Hedge’s gearbox with five laps remaining. Hedge kept his composure and held on for second, four-tenths of a second ahead of Shin.

Abel survived contact with Shin early in the race to cruise home fourth. He wasn’t the only INDY NXT driver involved in an incident during the race.

Aron hit the retaining wall at the exit of the final corner on the final lap during a spirited duel with Roman Bilinski of the United Kingdom. Bilinski couldn’t evade the wreckage and launched over Aron’s car. Neither driver was hurt. Aron, who won the second of three points-paying races earlier in the weekend, was classified sixth.

The 2024 INDY NXT by Firestone season starts Sunday, March 10 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.