Could Supercars Championship night racing come to New Zealand?
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The New Zealand round of the Supercars Championship could potentially become a night event in the future.
Last weekend's first attempt at a night race on Australian soil in over two decades was a tremendous success as fans packed into Sydney Motorsport Park while a huge increase in television audience tuned in to watch Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen take the chequered flag.
With drivers, teams, fans and media all hailing the event a success, Supercars boss Sean Seamer admitted the series will now evaluate expanding the concept into other venues.
The Kiwi round at Pukekohe Park Raceway looms as an obvious choice.
Firstly it is a small track and relatively easy to fit with temporary lighting like what was used in Sydney. The time difference means races are run earlier than normal at present but a later timeslot would help Australian television reach a more prime time audience.
Finally the New Zealand round always attracts a good crowd – well in excess of 100,000 across the weekend. But it is slowly trending in the wrong direction as fans become used to the same thing each year. A night race would serve as a novelty and breathe new life into an already successful event.
Supercars are yet to start talking to circuits about moving to a night format but they are well aware of the potential a shift would hold.
"The format could certainly be replicated at other circuits although first and foremost is fully debriefing on the weekend just gone," Supercars spokesman Cole Hitchcock told The Herald.
"Sydney was fantastic, no doubt, a great exercise which could definitely be transferred to other venues. There are a lot of considerations within the planning of next year's calendar and beyond, including formats and dates.
"The base template is definitely there should we decide on more fixtures like it in future."
Pukekohe Park does have permanent lighting in place for horse racing, although that would have only a minimal impact on lighting the motor racing circuit.
The track has had no discussion with Supercars about the possibility of a night race but would be open to working on the concept should the series come calling.
"As management of Pukekohe Park Raceway we would always entertain any idea that promoters might have in regards to hiring the circuit," Pukekohe circuit manager Paul Fallon told The Herald.
"If approached we would certainly sit down with them but there would be a lot of hurdles to jump to make it happen."
The next round of the championship is at the new Bend Motorsport facility in rural Adelaide on August 24-26.
Pukekohe hosts the penultimate round November 2-4.
- NZ Herald