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Why BJR teen recruit is one to watch

ELLIOTT Cleary has been earmarked for a bright future in motorsport by a man who knows what it takes in Supercars.

The 17-year-old was last week announced to drive for Brad Jones Racing in the 2024 Dunlop Super2 Series.

Before that season gets underway, Cleary is racking up miles in the New Zealand-based open-wheel Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship, racing for MTEC Motorsport.

His MTEC boss? None other than Bruin Beasley, who was team manager at Erebus Motorsport when it won the 2017 Bathurst 1000 and oversaw Team 18’s first Supercars race win last year.

“He is actually highly talented,” Beasley said of Cleary, following Round 1 of the CTFROC last weekend at Taupō.

“He has got a really high skill level for someone who hasn’t done a lot, I suppose. He’s done some Formula Ford stuff, he’s done Trans Am last year, and obviously karting before that.

“He is just an enormous raw talent. He is very good and he is very hungry.

“He doesn’t come from a motorsport family or background, it’s just something he wants to do, so he is extremely focused which is great.

“He is quite exciting to work with and he is a good kid too. I think whatever he does, wherever he goes, he is going to be competitive.”

In a 17-strong field at Taupō, Cleary took placings of 10th, eighth and 10th on debut – the second-highest points haul among the nine rookies.

Elliott Cleary in action. Pic: MTEC Motorsport

“Considering he had done three days basically before the series started in this kind of car and nothing else even remotely similar, he was pretty impressive,” Beasley added.

“The last qualifying he was only eight tenths off some of the best guys in the world in these cars.”

Comprising five successive race weekends, the CTFROC is a demanding but rewarding campaign for youngsters, according to Beasley: “It’s actually quite rigorous, torturous.

“Some kids get to around Round 3 or 4 and it’s all too much for them and you can see them drop away.

“It’s important development for these kids; sometimes they come here as a kid and leave almost as a man.

Bruin Beasley. Pic: Supplied/Dewi Jones

“It’s hard work and they have got to learn a different track each week, it’s just continuous, so that five-week period is really good for development and it keeps them in the car.

“That’s why it works. You’re basically doing a season in five weeks, as opposed to Australia where they might sit out for a month before getting in the car again.”

Also on Beasley’s MTEC roster is Tommy Smith, the nephew of now retired Supercars driver Jack Smith.

Tommy, 21, is preparing for a second year in the FIA Formula 3 Championship.

“Tommy is great, he’s happy to work with everyone and share everything and he is a little bit more experienced, especially on a Pirelli tyre, which is valuable for us,” said Beasley.

Round 2 of the CTFROC takes place this weekend at Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon.

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