‘Very positive’ signs for Supercars from Taupo visit

Supercars Taupo

Supercars has moved closer to an event at Taupo. Picture: John Cowpland

Supercars is encouraged by a recent fact-finding mission to Taupo as it looks to add the New Zealand circuit to the 2024 calendar.

The category is currently without an event on the other side of the Tasman after the sudden closure of Pukekohe, but a replacement could be confirmed in a matter of weeks now.

“We’re not far away,” Supercars CEO Shane Howard told Speedcafe and the Parked Up Plus Podcast.

“We’ve still got a bit of work to do, but I think the site inspection and the meetings that were conducted were very positive.”

A three-person delegation visited Taupo International Motorsport Park earlier this month, headed up by Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer, Tim Watsford, plus a member of Supercars’ Motorsport department and another from Events.

Watsford is the former CEO of the Northern Territory Major Events Company which promotes the Darwin event and is leading talks with government over Taupo, which has usurped Hampton Downs as the favourite for re-establishing an annual New Zealand stop on the calendar.

The process for replacing Pukekohe has not been straightforward given neither of those aforementioned circuits are located within the Auckland region, the government of which had supported Supercars previously.

Tony Quinn, the largest shareholder in Triple Eight Race Engineering and owner of both Taupo and Hampton Downs, considers the former a logical choice.

“We’ve previously looked at Hamptons before, but [the recent delegation] was purely focused on Taupo and getting together with government, and obviously to meet at the venue and understand all the different requirements to hold a championship event, [and] meet with the mayor and council,” explained Howard.

“They’re very supportive of it and then we’re in the final stages of our submission to [New Zealand] Major Events, so it’s proceeding well.”

Hampton Downs was to have featured on the calendar in 2020 when it came to light that Pukekohe was infeasible due to its ANZAC Day date, although the outbreak of COVID-19 led to travel restrictions which scuppered that plan anyway.

Both Hampton Downs and Taupo have the requisite FIA grading for Supercars, with the latter having previously hosted the A1 Grand Prix.

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