June 16, 2021

Supercars still open to New Zealand double-header

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The category only recently made a final decision on where it will hold its NZ round this year, a return to Pukekohe getting the nod over a first visit to Hampton Downs.

However it was made clear in the Pukekohe announcement that a Hampton Downs event isn’t off the table entirely.

A North Island double-header could be the answer for getting Hampton Downs onto the schedule, the idea having first been floated during talks for the COVID-revised calendar last year before the trip across the Tasman was cancelled due to border restrictions.

The double-header concept was then revisited this season, and while it didn’t go ahead, Supercars COO Shane Howard isn’t ruling out in the future.

“Yes, it could be a possibility in the future,” he said.

“Those things, they’ve been discussed. You travel all the distance. In New Zealand, we’ve got loyal supporters. The first thing is we want to get back there, and then we can discuss other opportunities from there.”

With funding for the race coming out of Auckland’s tourism and events budget, Pukekohe – which sits inside the Auckland local government region – has long been the preferred venue for Supercars across the ditch.

However a date bungle for the proposed 2020 event saw Hampton Downs, which is located in neighbouring Waikato, drafted in as a replacement.

The event was then scuppered by the pandemic, which robbed Hampton Downs of its first opportunity to host the Aussie series.

Hampton Downs was in the mix for the 2021 event too, only for Supercars to eventually decide to return to Pukekohe instead.

Expanding on that decision, Howard said it wasn’t just based on local government borders.

“There’s a few factors there,” he said.

“We’re contracted to run at Pukekohe. That venue, we have all the working plans. Traffic management has already been established. Our people that we work with there, their organisation in regard to their operational roles, are all in place for that venue. They’ve got a big grandstand.

“It’s the right venue for us to be at. We’ll consider other opportunities from there.

“First of all, first principle, get back there, get the race happening, run it at a venue we know that we have experience at – eliminate risk of operation.

“We know that, as I said, the traffic plans are in place. Managing the event remotely as we do, even though we have people contracted to do specific roles there, that’s the most sensible choice at this point.”

A travel bubble is now open between New Zealand and Australia, allowing people to come and go without needing quarantine or isolation on either side of the Tasman.

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