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Ten fast facts about this weekend's ITM400 Auckland

Ten fast facts about this weekend's ITM400 Auckland
Apr 10, 2013, 8:22 AM

The last race on the Kiwi circuit was in 2007.

New Zealand is next up for the V8 Supercars Championship. The Australian-based series first venture off their home turf in 2001.


Photo by: Edge Photographics

1. The return of the V8 Supercars Championship to Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand marks the first time since 2007 that the category has competed at the historic Kiwi circuit.

This will be the eighth V8SC event at Pukekohe since the first in 2001 - which also was the first offshore event in championship history.

This year will be the 13th time the V8SC has competed in New Zealand after Hamilton hosted the country's V8 Supercar event for the last five years on a street circuit.

2. All drivers will be competing for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy at Pukekohe named in honour of the V8 Supercar driver who lost his life to a rare form of cancer in December 2011.

A proud Kiwi, Richards was a three-time Bathurst 1000 runner-up who made 131 ATCC/V8 Supercars Championship event starts between 2000 and 2010.

He competed in every Pukekohe V8 Supercar event between 2001 and 2007 for Team Kiwi Racing, Team Dynamik and Tasman Motorsport.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Pukekohe circuit, making it an extra special occasion for the creation of the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy and return of V8 Supercars to the venue.

The new trophy will be awarded to the driver that has the best combined results over the four races at Pukekohe.

3. It's a strange statistic, but after five races in the 2013 championship, the top three drivers in the pointscore - Jamie Whincup, Will Davison and James Courtney - are all yet to win a race.

Kiwi Fabian Coulthard is the only one to have won multiple races, though he sits seventh in the championship heading to his home event in New Zealand.

Of the other 2013 race winners so far, Craig Lowndes sits fourth, Shane van Gisbergen is ninth and Jason Bright is 12th.

There have been four different winners from the first five races, a spread not seen since 2008 when four different drivers shared the first five race wins of the championship.

4. It's rare that a statistic relating to Red Bull Racing Australia involves droughts and success eluding the Queensland-based team - but that is very much the case with its history at the Pukekohe circuit.

The Triple Eight team is yet to score a race victory at the circuit, while its drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup are also winless at the Kiwi venue.

Barring the new Circuit of The Americas in Texas, the team has won at every other circuit on the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship calendar.

Both have been able to rack up second place race finishes before at Pukekohe (Lowndes in 2006 and Whincup in 2007), but no race wins.

5. There will be a strong local contingent of Kiwi drivers in the New Zealand event with four drivers out of 27 sure to attract plenty of home support.

Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing), Shane van Gisbergen (Tekno Team VIP) and Scott McLaughlin (Fujitsu Racing GRM) have all won races this year (Coulthard at Symmons Plains, van Gisbergen in Adelaide and McLaughlin at the non-championship Albert Park event), while Jonny Reid (Dick Johnson Racing) is the fourth Kiwi driver in the field.

Only Symmons Plains winner Coulthard has raced a V8 Supercar at Pukekohe before, though the other three have all completed plenty of racing laps in other categories at the circuit.

6. Pukekohe has traditionally been a circuit completely dominated by Holden in the V8 Supercars Championship.

Between 2001 and 2007 there were 21 championship races held at the venue with 20 race wins to Holden and just one to Ford - taken by Marcos Ambrose in Race 1 of 2004 for Stone Brothers Racing.

Holden drivers have also dominated the pole positions in the past with five of the seven going to Commodore drivers.

7. More than half the field will be making their first V8 Supercar appearance at Pukekohe this weekend, though many of the drivers have competed at the venue in other categories.

A total of 15 of the 27 drivers have never raced a V8 Supercar at Pukekohe before. They are:

- Jonathon Webb and Shane van Gisbergen (Tekno Autosports)
- Tony D'Alberto (Team HIFLEX)
- Maro Engel (SP Tools Racing)
- Jonny Reid and Tim Blanchard (Dick Johnson Racing)
- Alex Davison (Team JELD-WEN)
- David Wall (Wilson Security Racing)
- Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat (Fujitsu Racing/GRM)
- Michael Caruso and James Moffat (Norton 360 Racing)
- Tim Slade (Heavy Haulage Australia Racing)
- David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team)
- Dean Fiore (Dodo Insurance Racing)

8. Greg Murphy may not be racing full-time in V8 Supercars this year, but the ITM 400 Auckland event ambassador and Holden Racing Team endurance driver is still undoubtedly the 'King of Pukekohe'.

Murphy won the event overall three years in a row from 2001 to 2003 for Kmart Racing and followed it up with another victory in 2005 for Supercheap Auto/PWR Racing.

He won nine championship races from 15 at Pukekohe between 2001 and 2005 in addition to claiming pole position in 2001 and 2003.

Murphy also won a non-championship V8 Supercar event at Pukekohe for the Holden Racing Team in 1996, claiming a clean sweep of three race wins that weekend.

9. Ekol Racing's Scott Pye is in doubt for the weekend after his nasty accident last weekend at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.

The 2012 Dunlop Series runner-up crashed head-on into a wall and the damage to his #80 Commodore - coupled with the tight turn-around time before Pukekohe and the lack of an available spare car - has the team pushing it to get to New Zealand.

10. Just 12 drivers in the 2013 field were on the grid at Pukekohe the last time the V8 Supercars Championship raced there in 2007.

Of them, only five - Garth Tander, Todd Kelly, Jason Bright, Russell Ingall and Craig Lowndes - competed in all seven V8SC events held there between 2001 and 2007.

Tander has the most Pukekohe race wins of active drivers with three while Bright has two with singles to Todd Kelly and brother Rick.

Ingall, meanwhile, has a 100% finishing record across all 21 races at Pukekohe and an unbroken streak of 11 top-10 race finishes at the circuit that he'll attempt to keep rolling this year.

V8 Supercars

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Nissan Motorsport gets busy as V8 Championship heads to New Zealand

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