Grand Prix races off to Hampton Downs
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.