It was the opportunity of a lifetime. Hundreds of aspiring motoring journalists submitted their entries and waited with bated breath to find out if they were one of three finalists selected to compete for the inaugural CarAdvice Correspondent title.
The prize for taking out the title of The Correspondent 2015 is a three-month paid role with CarAdvice plus a trip to the Tokyo motor show thanks to Mazda.
Narrowing the field of impressive entries was no easy task for our judges, TV presenter Lauren Phillips, Australian rally car ace Chris Atkinson, CarAdvice.com.au Founder Alborz Fallah and CarAdvice.com.au associate publisher James Ward.
Anton Van Schalkwyk, Doug MacDougall and Mandy Turner each stood out for different reasons, and were invited to battle it out in the grand finale.
Anton and Mandy, from the Sunshine Coast and Shepparton respectively, were picked up at the airport, while Sydney-local Doug was greeted by a knock at the door.
The trio stayed at The Pullman Hotel on Hyde Park, before being spirited away early in the morning to a private facility to face a series of challenges.
Lauren Phillips conducted a presenter training session, followed by Chris Atkinson delivering some seating position and driving tips, before Alborz and James gave them a rundown on a day in the life of a motoring journalist.
Then the challenges began. Mazda Australia PR manager Karla Leach conducted a press conference on the new Mazda MX-5. The contestants then had just 30 minutes to produce a news story.
After that it was time to draw a key out of a helmet. The details on the key tags allocated them an MX-5 variant and a videographer.
Spreading out around the track, they each had two-hours to script and shoot a review of the roadster.
While the video crew headed back to Sydney to edit the videos ahead of the night’s formal proceedings, Anton, Doug and Mandy then had to tackle the motorkhana.
The judges struggled to separate the finalists throughout the day, each had their own strengths and weaknesses.
The finalists returned to their hotel to glam up before joining everyone at the CarAdvice office in Sydney for the announcement. Even as they sipped a glass of champagne, the nervous tension was building by the second.
The finalists were able to watch their finished videos before they were shown to the judges for consideration.
After an intense deliberation, Mandy Turner was announced the winner of the 2015 CarAdvice Correspondent.