To win a Burson Future Star award, a young driver must be successful in their respective discipline or even just show signs of significant development throughout the year.
For the super talented Michael Clemente, finishing on the podium in the Victorian Hyundai Excel Series wasn’t enough – he had to win the South Australian category too, making him a worthy recipient of the 2018 Burson Future Star Award in Victoria.
With the Excel series one of the most popular categories going around Australia, it’s no wonder the teenager chose to go down this pathway in order to satisfy his competitive hunger.
Clemente, who is now racing in New South Wales on top of his duties in South Australia and Victoria, is riding the wave of his newfound success and is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the category.
Despite two state titles and being on track to add more silverware to his growing trophy cabinet - taking out the Victorian Burson Future Star Award was one of the highest points of his career.
“I feel very privileged to have won the award,” Clemente said.
“If you look at some of other recipients of this award, there are some really big names there, so it’s fantastic to have my name part of that history.
“Since winning the award, I have received a lot of good coverage and exposure and it’s been putting my name out there, helping me slowly chip away at achieving my goal of one day racing in Supercars.”
Like most young drivers who dream of driving in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Clemente started his career in karting, a discipline he raced in for more than 10 years where he won a number of trophies.
Back when he was looking for his next challenge after karting and tossing up a variety of national categories, a simple visit to the CAMS Victorian State Circuit Championships with his father turned out to be crucial in determining his future.
“When my dad and I saw those Excels lined up, we were shocked as to how tricked up they were and the racing was even better,” Clemente said.
“It was also the most affordable category at the time and it still is so that was the reason we jumped into it and here I am now, still racing and still enjoying it.
“The fields are always full, it’s cost effective and it’s all about slip streaming and sizing people up.
“It may not be the most technical or the fastest form of motor sport but it’s full of close racing because the cars are all the same. That’s what I love about it.”
And as for Clemente’s own development as a driver, he believes the series is making him better.
“It’s helped me as a driver because it’s all about cutting as much corner and momentum speed as you can,” Clemente explained.
“It’s great for learning really important driving skills and maximising the ability in corners.
“The category is a really good stepping stone for entry level to build on race craft and to learn the basic skills.
"I think it’s an awesome category and hopefully it can lead to a bigger future.”