Hampton Downs to host New Zealand Grand Prix
The 66th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix will take place at Hampton Downs next January.
The Waikato circuit will host the NZ GP for the first time, the event opening a truncated Toyota Racing Series season on January 22-24.
It will also mark the first time TRS has used the four-kilometre 'International' layout at Hampton Downs.
The weekend will feature practice, qualifying and two races ahead of the prestigious grand prix – one of only two FIA-sanctioned races outside of Formula 1 permitted to use the title along with Macau.
As announced alongside the calendar, there are plans to give the NZ GP and all-stars theme, with a number of well-known Kiwis in the field.
One of them will almost certainly be open-wheeler veteran Kenny Smith, who is facing his 50th NZ GP start.
According to Hampton Downs CEO Josie Spillane, hosting the GP is a great honour for her and circuit owner Tony Quinn.
“I recall when we started at Highlands, Tony very clearly set down that one of his personal goals was to host the grand prix. We gave it our best in 2014 and then again when we purchased Hampton Downs," she said.
"We have always been very open about the fact that we see a huge privilege in hosting the grand prix and we are committed to doing our best to make it special and also honour our good friend Kenny Smith. This is his 50th start in the grand prix, a milestone we all should be celebrating.”
TRS category manager Nicolas Caillol added that the series is continuing to work with immigration authorities on the prospect of overseas drivers taking part, despite NZ's strict border closure amid the pandemic.
"The opportunity for New Zealand and the Castrol Toyota Racing Series will be to showcase our immense pool of talent both new and old and the high-quality racing that the series is known throughout the world for," he explained.
"[The grand prix is] going to be the best possible way to kick off the 2021 series.
"The first drivers will be confirmed very soon. Everyone involved is working hard to put as many great Kiwi drivers behind the wheel for this event as we can. We are determined to make it a fantastic motorsport event.
"We are still working on the potential of international drivers taking part too and we are continuing to work closely with MBIE and NZ Immigration on a daily basis as the global situation with COVID-19 evolves."
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