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Supercars confident of New Zealand return in 2021

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Supercars confident of New Zealand return in 2021
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Supercars is confident it will return to New Zealand next season, with April still the preferred slot for the trip across the Tasman.

The Australian series was forced to dump its annual visit to New Zealand this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the original April date taken out of the question by international travel restrictions on both sides of the Tasman.

An NZ round did make it onto the original revised 2020/2021 schedule with an early January date, before being canned altogether as the season was cut back to fit within the current calendar year.

While the long-touted trans-Tasman travel bubble is yet to materialise, and neither country is likely to fully open its international borders until a vaccine is in circulation, Supercars is still confident it will get to New Zealand next year.

According to series boss Sean Seamer the current plan is for an April 2021 slot, likely around ANZAC Day as was the case this year.

“Our current plans for the calendar for next year, as it relates to getting back to New Zealand, we’re still working on being there in April, as we'd planned this year,” he said.

“But we’ll confirm that just after Bathurst, the timing for announcing the calendar is just after Bathurst this year.”

Should the Australia/New Zealand travel bubble not be in place by April, Seamer said he'd be open to moving the round later in the season – similar to what's been done with the Adelaide 500 to improve the chances of an unrestricted spectator allowance.

“Absolutely,” he said. “What we’ve seen with our partners in New Zealand is a lot of flexibility already around the date and location of that event, because of everything we’ve been through not only this year, but in planning for this year, with the change from Pukekohe to Hampton Downs.

“The Kiwis are an entrepreneurial bunch and we’ll make it happen one way or another.”

There's still no clarification over which of those two circuits, Hampton Downs and Pukekohe, will host Supercars when the NZ return goes ahead.

Supercars usually races at Pukekohe, which falls inside the Auckland local government region, thanks to a funding deal with Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development.

However this year's proposed round was moved to Hampton Downs, in the Waikato region, as part of an embarrassingly late realisation that Pukekohe couldn't be used on ANZAC Day due to local legislation.

Had the event gone ahead it would have been the first time Supercars had used the Hampton Downs circuit.

While no firm decision has been made for 2021, Seamer hinted that a Hampton Downs debut is still the likeliest outcome given the circuit was willing to help Supercars out of the ANZAC Day bungle.

"Our position hasn’t changed as it relates to Hampton Downs, given all of the great work they did for us, particularly over Christmas last year,” said Seamer.

“We’ll work through that with all the key partners involved – Sky, Repco and the folks at ITM – [and] we’ll come to a conclusion on that in the next few weeks.”

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Series Supercars
Author Andrew van Leeuwen