Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen wants more events in New Zealand
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This weekend thousands of Kiwis will make the annual pilgrimage to Pukekohe Raceway to soak up the Supercars Championship.
Although attendance has fluctuated in recent years, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint is still among the best attended sporting events in New Zealand. Punters have long questioned whether the country would be able to sustain more than one Supercars visit a year. And it appears that they're not alone in wondering.
Speaking to Supercars.com, Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen has said the series should look at making the journey over the ditch more often.
Photo / Matthew Hansen
“All the tracks in New Zealand are good,” he said. “We could probably have two or three events there but Pukekohe is the event of choice. There are so many fans of the sport in New Zealand we should have at least two rounds there.”
The series is experiencing a high in interest from New Zealand, given the level of success Kiwis are having in the series. After not winning a title since 1990, Kiwis have won two of the last three Supercars Championship crowns (van Gisbergen in 2016 and Scott McLaughlin in 2018).
That form is continuing this year, with 20 of this year's 22 races having been won by New Zealanders.
The Supercars Championship has visited three different venues here in past years. Pukekohe has held the most events, with a non-championship event in 1996 followed by rounds held between 2001 and 2007, plus a return in 2013. Hamilton hosted the Supercars between 2008 and 2012 with its street-circuit event. And the Supercars also visited Wellington for its second non-championship leg in 1996.
Absent from that list are any of the race circuits in the South Island; including Teretonga Park in Invercargill, Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, and Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch. Pukekohe, a favourite among the drivers, appears to be the Supercars most likely northern home in years to come.
“It is a pretty awesome track – from a fan point of view you can see most corners from all vantage points. It is a great track to spectate at. It is a pretty awesome track to drive as well,” added van Gisbergen.
“I think 2002 was my first time there and it was the second year of Greg Murphy winning three in a row there. That was the first Supercars race I had been to and watching him dominate is what sort of kicked it all off for me and made me want to be a Supercars racer.
“Memories of going out there with a bunch of mates – we were just in GA (general admission) seats but it was awesome to be there.”
The ITM Auckland SuperSprint kicks off on Friday, with two races to follow on Saturday and Sunday. Stay tuned to Driven for full event coverage.