Farewell for GT championship
When the Australian GT Championship returns to New Zealand next month for the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 it’s likely to be a farewell appearance.
The October 13-14 event will be the third year in a row the Waikato track has hosted the cars and stars of the Australian GT Championship and it’s the last time for the foreseeable future, according to Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn.
“We’ve had a great run with the series and it’s a fitting finale with both the Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship set to be decided at Hampton Downs,” says Quinn.
“We’ll have some of the best The Australian GT field on the opening lap of the 2017 race at Hampton Downs. GT3 cars in the world on the starting grid including Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, and Porsche so it promises to be an exciting weekend.”
Among the Kiwi drivers confirmed for the event include Craig Baird, Daniel Gaunt, Steve Richards and Andrew Waite.
“There’s been a real resurgence in GT racing around the world because the cars are so good and so different,” says Quinn.
“We first brought the Australian GTs to Highlands in 2013, followed by Hampton Downs in 2016, and both of those events provided a big boost to the local endurance scene which has really taken off in the last few years.
“Our focus for now is on supporting the homegrown talent and series in New Zealand but we’ll still look at bringing over one of the major Australian categories to Hampton Downs or Highlands every year. We’re also committed to bringing international series to New Zealand. The Asia Pacific Ferrari Challenge at Hampton Downs earlier this year was a great success and the feedback we got from the teams and drivers was really positive.”
With five rounds completed Fraser Ross leads the Australian championship in his McLaren 650S GT3 ahead of Peter Hackett (Mercedes AMG GT3) with Australian-based Kiwi, Steve Richards (BMW M6 GT3) sitting in third place. Also in title contention ahead of the final round are Audi R8 LMS drivers Geoff Emery and Tony Bates and sixth placed Liam Talbot (Porsche 911 GT3 RS).
The format for the Australian GT decider is a 101-lap race on Sunday, October 14 with two qualifying sessions and a 30-lap qualifying race on Saturday to decide the starting grid.
The support categories include Enzed Central Muscle Cars, BMW Racing Series, Porsche Racing Series and SsangYong Actyon Utes.