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ATEED earmarks 2021 return for Supercars in NZ

Simon Chapman

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Monday 22nd June, 2020 - 6:00am

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ATEED will work with Supercars to see the championship return in 2021

Auckland’s economic development agency ATEED says it will work with Supercars to see the championship return to New Zealand on Anzac Day weekend next year.

Last week it was confirmed the New Zealand round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship had been cancelled due to circumstances out of the category’s control.

The coronavirus pandemic initially postponed the event from April 2020 to January 2021, however, the second revision to the Supercars calendar has since seen the event cut entirely.

Condensing the calendar to the end of 2020 came as a result of pressure from the teams and broadcast partners to end the season before 2021.

Supercars has indicated it will look to bring back events that were omitted from the 2020 calendar, including the New Zealand round.

Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) General Manager Steve Armitage said the difficulties posed by the pandemic were too great to overcome.

However, he’s optimistic about the future of the event, which is in its last year of the current contract.

“We’ve had very good constructive and open dialogue with Supercars all the way through,” Armitage told Speedcafe.com.

“The intent from all sides to have a New Zealand round in the calendar for 2020 was something we were obviously all aspiring to.

“I think we all understood that there were a lot of complexities that set in.

“Some of those were well outside of our control and the need for the season to be able to proceed, with some level of certainty for the teams, has come into sharp focus in recent weeks.

“We support where things have landed on the proviso that we’re able to secure an Auckland round in the 2021 championship as part of the final year of our contract.”

Armitage said ATEED will work through the next phase of planning with Supercars soon.

Supercars CEO Sean Seamer recently signalled during a media roundtable teleconference that a 2021 calendar confirmation will come around October.

Armitage said he is working to secure an April date in line with this year’s original date on Anzac Day weekend and hopes there won’t be a repeat of this year’s Auckland Council unitary plan drama.

ATEED and Supercars had to move from Pukekohe Park to Hampton Downs Motorsport Park after it was found Pukekohe Park couldn’t host events on Anzac Day due to the council bylaw.

“We’ll be sitting back down with Supercars obviously ahead of the announcement in October of the 2021 championship schedule, to make sure that we’re clear on timings, and that we can avoid any issues in the way that we did earlier in the year around unitary planning,” said Armitage.

“We’ll be providing support to the event delivery team around how they need to navigate their way through potential issues around the unitary planning, depending on what date is finalized for the Auckland round.

When asked about having Supercars return on its initially slated April date, Armitage said, “That would be the perfect outcome for us.

“We’ve felt previously when we’ve had the Anzac round, that’s provided a great opportunity for us to celebrate the relationship between the two countries.

“It’s provided us with a great opportunity to profile the RSA and the important work that they do supporting return servicemen.

“From our perspective, it’s worked extremely well. We know the local community has high regard for the event and is very keen to see it come back to Pukekohe.

“It provides a huge amount of local stimulus to that local township and enables us to promote Auckland, particularly to our key Australian market.

“So, yes, we’re very keen to see it come back. April works well for those reasons.

“But it also, hopefully, follows on from a successful defence of the America’s Cup, and our ability to continue to showcase Auckland as a major event destination.”

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship returns to race with the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint on June 27-28.

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