Fabian Coulthard admits he is ‘gutted’ that Supercars will not be making its annual pilgrimage to New Zealand in 2020 after the sport opted to scrub the round amid a secondary revising of its season calendar.
Even before the pandemic disrupted the Supercars season, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint had already caused its own disturbance when it was forced to shift its round from Pukekohe Park to Hampton Downs courtesy of public holiday legislation that prevented the Auckland venue from staging a round on ANZAC weekend.
But the recent coronavirus pandemic saw Supercars reschedule its trans-Tasman round with a new date pencilled in for January of 2021.
However, a push from teams and broadcasting partners to conclude the season in 2020 and not carry over into the new year saw New Zealand become one of many events shelved from the sport’s calendar.
Coulthard, who has one New Zealand podium finish to his name back in 2013, said over the weekend that the news left him and his DJR Team Penske stablemate Scott McLaughlin rather blue.
“It is a shame for us kiwi drivers,” Coulthard told NewsTalk ZB. “We obviously drive a lot of Australian tracks throughout the year and we want to showcase our skills in New Zealand but unfortunately Supercars have come to the agreement that we won’t be at Hampton Downs or Pukekohe this year.
“We are gutted. You know Scotty [McLaughlin] and I drive for Shell V-Power racing and are two kiwis with a strong following and we want to showcase what we do in Australia and New Zealand.
“So it is quite a real shame.”
Prior to his luckless Supercars return at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend, Coulthard announced he has taken aspiring kiwi karter Louis Sharp under his wing as part of the Repco’s Young Driver Scholarship Programme.
A multiple New Zealand karting champion, Coulthard says Sharp’s results and maturity had led him to deciding to mentor the young Cantabrian across the rest of the year.
“I put a lot of thought into who I wanted and Louis for me ticks all the boxes,” added Coulthard.
“First and foremost, results – he has won a lot of New Zealand karting titles and he has got a few things in the pipeline which are really cool.
“So, I am looking forward to giving him a bit of my knowledge and what I have learnt through my journey and racing at a professional level for quite some time.”
Coulthard currently lies 13th in the Supercars standings after three rounds. The championship is set to return on July 18-19 for the Truck Assist Winton SuperSprint.