The New Zealand Herald

Ferrari first for NZ at round two of Asia Pacific series


The biggest collection of Ferraris ever assembled in New Zealand will feature at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park this weekend at the Ferrari Challenge event.

The famous Italian marque will be celebrated at round two of the AsiaPacifi­c series. The opening round took place at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

“This has taken 12 months to put together and the prospect of having over 30 Ferraris on the starting grid at Hampton Downs will be very impressive,” said Tony Elsmore, the dealer principal at Continenta­l Cars Ferrari in Auckland.

“Fans can expect to see a festival of all things Ferrari at this event,” he says. “The racing will undoubtedl­y be the highlight but there will be a huge number of Ferraris on display and doing exhibition stuff on track.”

Grant Baker, the former executive chairman of 42 Below vodka and current chairman of Turners Automotive Group, is the only New Zealand driver competing.

“Nothing drives like a Ferrari,” says Baker. “I’ve driven lots of nice cars but driving a Ferrari is a real experience. They’re nimble, they look good and they make a beautiful noise. They’re a little bit edgy, especially if you drive them fast, which is what I get to do as part of the Ferrari Challenge.”

Racing in a Ferrari is a far cry from where Baker started his motorsport career, in a second hand Peugeot 105 in a six-hour endurance race at Pukekohe.

“I was 42 years old and myself and a friend decided to enter,” he says. “Neither of us had driven a race car before. We didn’t finish but I was bitten by the bug. I raced for the next four or five years in the NZ V8s and Porsche Carrera Cup and I went back to Pukekohe and won the six-hour endurance race a couple of times.”

The Ferrari Challenge consists of two races. There will be one race and a qualifying session on both Saturday and Sunday.

Off the track, there will be hundreds of Ferraris on display, including the latest models from Continenta­l Cars. The Ferrari Owners Club are bringing along a myriad of different models from the past and present, while several rare and exotic Ferraris will be on show, including the US$10 million LaFerrari Aperta, the F12 Tour de France and the 599 GTO. An assortment of 355, 458 and 488 Ferrari race cars will be on display as well as taking part in a demonstrat­ion session on track.

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