Jonny Reid comments on New Zealand confirmation

NEW ZEALAND A1GP CONFIRMATION 'FANTASTIC NEWS' SAYS REID New Zealand racing driver Jonny Reid says that the confirmation today of a local round of the 2007 A1GP Cup of Motorsport is 'fantastic news.' Reid was one of the first drivers to...

NEW ZEALAND A1GP CONFIRMATION 'FANTASTIC NEWS' SAYS REID

New Zealand racing driver Jonny Reid says that the confirmation today of a local round of the 2007 A1GP Cup of Motorsport is 'fantastic news.'

Reid was one of the first drivers to welcome efforts to get a round of the 2007 A1GP series in New Zealand and he says that today's news is the best he has heard in a long time.

"A1GP and New Zealand A1GP Team management have done a fantastic job in bringing the World Cup of Motorsport to New Zealand and this is outstanding news for New Zealand It really gives the fans, sponsors and Kiwi drivers a good look at racing on the world stage first hand."

Reid also said a huge vote of thanks was due to the New Zealand Govenment for getting behind the project.

"By helping to fund Taupo's upgrades the Government has guaranteed that we have a circuit big enough and safe enough for these cars. So a big thanks to the Government and everyone involved in the Taupo Motorsport Park venture. It would be a true honour to take Black Beauty out on home turf and race in front of a home crowd!"

Reid, 23, is a multi-time New Zealand kart champion and winner of the 2003 New Zealand Formula Ford championship and New Zealand Grand Prix title.

Since embarking on an international career he has won races in each country and category he has competed in, including Formula Holden in Australia in 2003, the Superfund F3000 series in Europe in 2004 and the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship in 2005.

With fellow Aucklander Matt Halliday, he was one of two drivers selected to race for franchise holder Colin Giltrap's New Zealand A1GP team in the inaugural A1GP series last year.

Reid raced the team's Fisher & Paykel, Zespri and The Radio Network-backed car (dubbed Black Beauty by the team and New Zealand media) at two of the rounds of the series, with a best finish of fourth in both the sprint and feature races at the Lausitzring round in Germany.

This year Reid is again competing in the All-Japan Formula 2 Championship for the INGING team, where he is one of the series pace-setters.

Today's announcement that the Taupo Motorsport Park would host a round of the 2007 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport was made by A1GP chief operating officer David Clare at a press conference in Auckland attended by New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister of Economic Development and Sport and Recreation The Hon Trevor Mallard.

The event has been sanctioned by MotorSport New Zealand and will be managed and promoted jointly by A1GP, MIT (the operators of the Taupo Motorsport Park) and A1 Team.NZL.

At the press conference New Zealand franchise holder Colin Giltrap said that the A1GP round will be the biggest motorsport event seen in New Zealand for 50 years.

"Not since the halcyon days of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in the 1950s have we hosted such a major motorsport event," he said. "This is a major coup for motorsport and will have far-reaching benefits for the country as a whole - economically and from a profile perspective."

More than 20 countries compete in the nation versus nation event, which starts its second season in the Netherlands on October 1, and London-based chief operating officer David Clare said that A1GP is thrilled to be heading to New Zealand.

"Given A1's growth and the increasing popularity of motorsport, it is an opportunity that needed to be seized now and I'm sure Taupo will host a memorable event and showcase this beautiful country to the world," he told those gathered at the press conference.

"New Zealand," he continued, " always punches above its weight on the world stage and the team's performance in finishing fourth in the inaugural championship simply highlighted the Kiwi team's talent and professionalism."

For the New Zealand Government, which will provide $2 million over the next three years to enable the Taupo Motorsport Park to upgrade its facilities, The Hon Trevor Mallard said A1GP's drive to include Taupo was another example of the country's ability to host world-class events."

"This is a major achievement for New Zealand motorsport and a huge fillip for the tourism and event industries," Mr Mallard said.

"We're eagerly anticipating the Rugby World Cup and World Rowing Champs in 2011. Now, we have a prestigious motorsport event taking place and it's just around the corner.

"I'm sure New Zealanders will embrace such a quality event being held in our backyard and, as a government, we're pleased to have helped with funding and will now be examining how we can leverage this significant opportunity."

The countries involved in A1GP account for 80% of the world's population and A1GP CEO David Clare is certain the impressive media coverage of the inaugural Series will be enhanced in its second year.

In Season One A1GP had an average live television audience of 7.7 million for each round across 37 networks in 120 countries, with 127 different programmes generated per round. Some 2000 media representatives attended the 11 events.

When the A1GP roadshow, including its own TV production arm, international media and the teams of more than 20 nations, descend on Taupo, the event is conservatively estimated to be worth more than $23 million to the New Zealand economy.

"It's why we fought so hard to bring A1GP to Taupo," said David Steele, Managing Director of track managers MIT.

"We're determined to make this a truly special round and ensure its ongoing prominence on the A1 calendar because the economic benefits to Taupo and the country are so profound, especially as it's an annual competition, not a one-off."

Mr Steele said the Taupo track was being upgraded to meet the requirements needed to run races of A1GP's calibre and he promised a fast and exciting circuit.

"But it's not just the track that will receive a makeover," he said. "The government funding will be used primarily to build a pit lane complex, as well as media and corporate facilities in keeping with the stature of an A1GP event."

Mr Steele said accommodation had already been booked for the A1 teams and 'great strides' had already been made in logistics and planning, from ticketing and entertainment through to crowd safety and traffic management.

"We will work alongside Motorsport New Zealand and A1 Team.NZL to release details as soon as we possibly can. Tickets should be on sale early September."

The weekend will provide a feast of action for motor racing fans with MotorSport New Zealand announcing that the Taupo round of the New Zealand Championships, originally scheduled for March, will now be brought forward to coincide with the A1GP meeting.

Steven Kennedy, the President of MotorSport New Zealand, said the clash with the Timaru round of the championships has been resolved and all the racing classes will participate in Taupo.

"We are delighted to see the A1GP race in New Zealand and will work with the A1GP organisation to ensure a successful Taupo meeting."

-credit: fast company

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Series A1GP
Drivers Jonny Reid , David Clare , Matt Halliday