Pukekohe enters three-way Grand Prix race
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First it was Hampton Downs now Pukekohe Park Raceway is putting up its hand to host the 2018 New Zealand Grand Prix.
A three-way fight between the South Auckland track, Hampton Downs in the North Waikato and current host circuit Manfeild near Palmerston North will play out over the next few weeks with a decision expected by the end of April.
Promoters Speed Works Events have been handed a new five-year contract to look after the annual summer series, including the Toyota Racing Series that contests the New Zealand Grand Prix.
The potential of Auckland Council support will be a big boost to their chances of getting hosting rights and owner Geoff Short told herald.co.nz that Pukekohe’s bid is legitimate.
“Pukekohe are definitely in the mix and there are some reasonably good discussion happening there,” Short explained.
“That would be contingent on a few things happening including resealing the circuit there.
“There is a bit of water to go under the bridge yet.”
Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn has been very public in demanding the once-iconic event move to his circuit – arguably the most modern and best all-round track in the country. But Manfeild, which has hosted the event since 2008, are extremely keen to keep hold of the race as well and will have the support of their local councils.
“I have a meeting with the council next week in the Manawatu and we obviously started those discussions before this year’s Grand Prix,” Short said.
“I will have a discussion with Tony and his team there as well at Hampton Downs.
“Basically the process for us to work through is what will be the best event for the Grand Prix and the category and present that back to Toyota and MotorSport New Zealand.
“It has to work for us as a business. I think we have a pretty good say in it.
“I’ve met with Toyota and MotorSport New Zealand and I will present the options on the table with a recommendation so it will be a three-way discussion.”
Short and his company were appointed to promote the 2016-17 summer and will complete that job with the final two rounds at Hampton Downs this weekend and Pukekohe next month.
MotorSport New Zealand handed Speed Works a long-term deal announced today, which gives everyone clarity moving forward.
“It was critical for us,” Short said. “We basically pushed that in our pitch – we needed a five-year plan for our business to gain commercial partners and to get councils and everyone on board we needed some stability around the whole thing.”
Short isn’t expecting massive structural changes however.
“We will need to do a review with all of the categories involved but I don’t see a lot changing to be fair. The logic behind doing two rounds in a row down in the South Island when most of the competitors are based in the North Island makes more sense.
“One thing we need to do is talk to the classic community – it seems like madness to me to be competing on weekends with those events on the same weekend at different venues as the TRS.”