The Press

Grand Prix races off to Hamp­ton Downs

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Hamp­ton Downs In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor­sport Park has been con­firmed as host of the 66th run­ning of the New Zealand Grand Prix – the first event of the three­r­ound 2021 Toy­ota Rac­ing Se­ries.

It will be the first time the Grand Prix, which since 2008 had been held at Man­feild, has been hosted at the North Waikato cir­cuit, and the first time any TRS event has been held on the longer and more chal­leng­ing 4km in­ter­na­tional for­mat track which has 10 cor­ners.

The Mo­tor Sport New Zealand­sanc­tioned event – a joint ven­ture by Hamp­ton Downs and Speed Works Events – will run over the week­end of Jan­uary 22-24, with prac­tice, qual­i­fy­ing and two races be­fore the Grand Prix it­self on the Sun­day, over 28 laps of the cir­cuit.

The ear­lier cal­en­dar date is de­signed to at­tract high-pro­file New Zealand driv­ers still at home fol­low­ing the Christ­mas break.

The New Zealand race is one of only two of­fi­cial FIA-sanc­tioned events per­mit­ted to carry the Grand Prix ti­tle that are not part of the an­nual FIA For­mula One World Cham­pi­onship. The other is the an­nual Ma­cau Grand Prix. Three­time win­ner Kenny Smith will be aim­ing to make his 50th start in the NZ Grand Prix.

For co-pro­mot­ers and hosts Hamp­ton Downs, the news rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of a bucket-list tick dat­ing back to 2013 when cir­cuit owner Tony Quinn opened the gates of his High­lands Mo­tor­sport Park. He pur­chased Hamp­ton Downs in 2015 and has never made a se­cret of his de­sire to see the Grand Prix at the North Waikato fa­cil­ity.

Due to the Covid-19 pan­demic, the Grand Prix will fea­ture a com­bi­na­tion of up-and-coming rac­ers, and a big Kiwi pres­ence. TRS cat­e­gory man­ager Ni­co­las Caillo said the fo­cus would be on show­cas­ing the coun­try’s new and ex­ist­ing tal­ent pool.

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