V8 Supercars pushing for long-term Pukekohe deal
V8 Supercars hopes to secure its future in New Zealand by locking away a long-term deal to race at Pukekohe from next season.
Next weekend marks the fifth and final street race in Hamilton, which took over from Pukekohe as the country’s host of the Australian category in 2008.
While V8 Supercars’ continued presence in New Zealand has been the subject of much speculation since the Hamilton event’s demise was announced last September, a return to Pukekohe has emerged as the only plausible option.
V8 Supercars has recently submitted a proposal to the Auckland City Council, which would likely see public money required to fund significant upgrades to the 2.8 km circuit and its facilities.
The category’s chief operating officer Shane Howard confirmed to Speedcafe.com that V8 Supercars is pinning its hopes on receiving the required support to revisit Pukekohe.
“It’s a good little circuit, it obviously needs some upgrading in regards to safety and amenities, but we believe that would be the best venue to be considered by the government to continue racing in New Zealand,” Howard told Speedcafe.com of Pukekohe.
“It’s located close to Auckland, it’s got rail opportunities there, it’s got a strong motor racing heritage, and we think that if the government supported that venue, it’d be the right place to go.”
Pukekohe hosted the V8 Supercars Championship between 2001 and 2007, and has recently been added to the 2012 calendar of the local V8 SuperTourers class.
According to Howard, V8 Supercars sees the permanent venue as a long-term destination, rather than a stop-gap measure put in place until another street event can be negotiated.
“We would like to secure a long term deal in New Zealand,” said Howard, who also confirmed that the category would be “comfortable” promoting the Pukekohe event itself, as it has done at Hamilton since the collapse of previous promoter Caleta in 2010.
“People need to have confidence that the event will be on, it will be promoted right, and they can plan their holidays and so on around it.
“It would give everyone confidence that V8 Supercars are there and will continue to run there, so we’d very much like to confirm a long term future there.”
When asked of the expected time frame on the Auckland City Council’s decision, Howard said a verdict would need to be reached by mid-year.
“We start setting our calendar at the end of July, so we’d be looking to know where we’re going by the end of July,” he said.
Meanwhile, V8 Supercars is expected to confirm within the coming days the fate of its much discussed ‘TBA’ event slated for this year’s November 9-11 weekend.
Having long stated that the situation would become clear by the end of March, paddock speculation at Symmons Plains indicated that the date will be dropped from the calendar.
V8 Supercars says it will not comment on the TBA event’s fate until an announcement is made.