Revved up and ready for 101 race

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - MO­TOR­ING

Hamp­ton Downs race track is about to host its first ma­jor event mark­ing the com­ple­tion of its 18-month trans­for­ma­tion.

The up­graded track, half way be­tween Hamil­ton and Auck­land off State High­way 1, will host one of the two New Zealand rounds of the Aus­tralian GT Series.

The lat­est Audi, Aston Martin, Fer­rari, McLaren, Lam­borgh­ini, Mercedes, Porsche and BMW cars will con­test the AGT En­durance ti­tle, in the in­au­gu­ral Hamp­ton Downs 101 from Oc­to­ber 29-30. The event will dou­ble as the of­fi­cial re­open­ing of the cir­cuit.

The Hamp­ton Downs 101 is mod­elled on the High­lands 101, where com­peti­tors com­plete 101 cir­cuits of the 4km track.

Changes made to Hamp­ton Downs in­clude a new 1.2 kilo­me­tre track ex­ten­sion, a 850m in­ter­na­tional go-kart track, a 4WD track, new cor­po­rate and mem­bers’ suites, new garages, a pit lane build­ing and some ma­jor land­scap­ing work has given it a much needed facelift.

The Hamp­ton Downs track was a project started in 2004 by Tony Roberts and Chris Wat­son. Scot­tish en­tre­pre­neur Tony Quinn en­tered ne­go­ti­a­tions with Roberts in early 2015 to buy the track.

‘‘It was al­ways my dream to have a race track in the North Is­land,’’ he says.

‘‘There were heaps of is­sues to sort out at Hamp­ton Downs, but I liked the chal­lenge. ‘‘I like com­pe­ti­tion and I like win­ning.’’ Quinn is a pas­sion­ate mo­tor­sport man and a five-time win­ner of the Targa New Zealand rally.

In 2013 he built a world-class race­track in Cromwell in Cen­tral Otago, where the High­lands 101 is held.

‘‘Peo­ple thought I was crazy to buy Hamp­ton Downs but there was method in my mad­ness,’’ he says.

‘‘Hav­ing two race­tracks means that if any of the big mo­tor­sport cat­e­gories are con­sid­er­ing com­ing all the way to New Zealand for an event, we can of­fer them two world class race­tracks.’’

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