NZ A1GP NEWS 'FANTASTIC' SAYS REID New Zealand A1GP driver Jonny Reid has welcomed the news that New Zealand looks set to host a round of the 2006/07 A1Grand Prix motor racing series. In a provisional calendar published yesterday, the official...
NZ A1GP NEWS 'FANTASTIC' SAYS REID
New Zealand A1GP driver Jonny Reid has welcomed the news that New Zealand looks set to host a round of the 2006/07 A1Grand Prix motor racing series.
In a provisional calendar published yesterday, the official A1GP website listed the new Taupo circuit as host of the sixth round of the 2006/07 A1GP world series over the January 20/21 2007 weekend.
New Zealand was one of the first nations to buy into the multi-national A1GP concept and Reid, one of the New Zealand team's two foundation drivers, says the prospect of a round 'at home' is 'fantastic news.'
"An A1GP in New Zealand will be the biggest single-seater motorsport event since the Tasman Series in the 1970s when the likes of Keke Rosberg and other drivers who were to go on to compete in Formula 1 used to come down here and race," he said. "A1GP is the 'World Cup' of motorsport, so it is a truly world-class series pitting nation against nation. There is no other motorsport event like it."
New Zealand motorsport is currently going through a real purple patch with the likes of Reid and fellow former kart star and 2003 World Karting Champion Wade Cunningham following in the footsteps of 2003 Indy Racing League champion Scott Dixon, and a new generation of karting stars like Chris van der Drift, Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber, Dominic Storey and Shane Van Gisbergen close behind.
Reid says he has long dreamed of returning home to compete in front of his fellow Kiwis, but so far he has not had the opportunity.
If the round of the A1GP series at the new Taupo Motorsport Park goes ahead as it looks like it will - the Park having recently won a $2 million grant from the Government conditional on it attracting 'an international event' in the near future - he could well get his chance.
"What more could a New Zealand driver ask than to be given the opportunity to race in an A1GP race in New Zealand, particularly at a circuit where the facilities are brand new and world class?" he asked.
And having competed successfully all over the world Reid says that being a 'local' in a race can make a huge difference.
"For sure. For a start having a local driver helps draw a bigger crowd. Even last year when I drove in Germany then again in Australia I saw a huge difference between the two meetings. At my first race at the Lauistzring in Germany Team New Zealand had little support, except obviously via the TV broadcast. But at the second race I drove at, which was held at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, we had a lot of support and it was a truly overwhelming weekend for me.
"A round in New Zealand," he continued, " will also give all the young up-and-coming drivers at home a first-hand opportunity to see what the future might hold for them. So yes, this is a huge step forward."
Reid also paid tribute to the 'vision' of the New Zealand Government for the $2 million grant awarded to the Taupo Motorsport Park.
"This investment is great news for motorsport in New Zealand in general and in particular for the New Zealand A1GP team. To have an international standard facility is just what New Zealand motorsport needs right now."
Reid says that it is commonplace overseas for Governments to invest in infrastructure like motor racing circuits because of the return international exposure via TV rights provide and that they do so for very good reason.
"Governments use motorsport to focus the world's attention on their country via the huge global TV broadcast deals which see events beamed to all over the world."
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, Reid 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.
This weekend he is competing at the fifth round of the 2006 All-Japan Formula Championship at the Suzuka International Circuit.