Monday, Apr 16 05:44pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Four things we learned at the Ferrari Challenge Asia–Pacific Series

Last weekend Hampton Downs added the Ferrari Challenge Asia­–Pacific Series to its slowly growing calendar of international events.


With the Hampton Downs 500 set to take place later in the year, the Ferrari Challenge has added another international series to bookend the summer season.  


There were plenty of ups and downs over the course of the weekend, which left velocitynews.co.nz wondering ‘what’s next?’


In the spirit of the 488 name, Here are four things we learned at the Ferrari Challenge Asia–Pacific Series...


It can be done bigger and better




There’s no doubt last weekend’s activities were a litmus test for the future of the event.


Already there’s been talk of next year and how the event could be made even bigger. Part of that talk between Continental Cars and Ferrari is the thought of changing the event format to be less focussed on drivers and more on fan engagement.


The Ferrari Challenge Series races on the support card to the Formula 1 circus, at their own standalone events, or as part of the Ferrari Racing Days experience.


Ferrari Racing Days bring not only the Challenge Series, but Formula 1 cars and Ferrari’s best race and road cars too.


That is what this event should be.



With over 500 Ferraris registered in New Zealand, our little country of four and a half million has one of the highest ownership rates per capita—though not the highest.


Ferrari has a significant history in New Zealand. Chris Amon drove for the marque in Formula 1 and the Ferrari badge was a big part of Kiwi motor racing in the 1960’s and ‘70s.


The New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing celebrated Ferrari in 2012, which attracted one of the biggest turnouts in the history of the event. With three Formula 1 cars on track and 140 Ferrari road cars out on track it was a sight to behold.


With the backing of Ferrari and Continental Cars, why not do it bigger and better?


Choose Hampton Downs and Highlands



Asia–Pacific Head of Corse Clienti Louis Colmache said he’s keen to ensure that the Asia–Pacific name is upheld and that regions like New Zealand and Australia aren’t left out.


Hopefully that means that last weekend’s race weekend won’t be the last. However, perhaps Highlands Motorsport Park is the better suited facility.


There’s two ways to look at it. Hampton Downs has high quality corporate facilities and plenty of them at that. All the infrastructure is there and almost every single suite was full over the weekend—especially when it was wet.


Highlands Motorsport Park with its temporary pit structure means that there aren’t facilities on the same scale. However, there are some available in pit lane near race control. Whether they can facilitate the same number of people is unknown.


However, while Hampton Downs definitely has the facilities, Highlands makes for a better experience.


With a tourism-focused economy it makes a lot more sense for these teams and drivers to experience the best parts of New Zealand. The reality is that Hampton Downs is nearly an hour from the Auckland CBD, minus traffic, which there was plenty of on Sunday afternoon.


Highlands, however, is equally just under an hour from Queenstown. Though perhaps a nicer destination and without the same traffic woes.


Perhaps do a year-on-year off approach to keep it interesting.


Give the fans something more



The common discussion thread throughout the weekend was ‘what are the support classes?’


New Zealanders are very blessed when it comes to support classes at most race meetings, but last weekend there were none.


Instead, there were race car exhibitions, hot laps, and opportunities for the Ferrari Owners Club of New Zealand to get out on track.


That was to be expected though. To look at last weekend and think it was a race meeting is wrong. In essence, it’s a big Ferrari track day with a greater focus on the corporate side of things.


A change in format to the Ferrari Racing Days platform with more racing, more fan engagement, and a great emphasis on not just the one-make series might have justified the $50 weekend spectator pass.


Drain the swamp!

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At this time of the year getting a bit of rain is to be expected, though perhaps not on the scale we had over the weekend.


Following the storm that rolled through the upper North Island, much of Auckland was left without power.


Hampton Downs meanwhile had to get the Tuakau Fire Service in to help drain parts of the circuit. The North Waikato circuit has always struggled with flooding.


It’s hard to find a happy middle ground. In Summer the circuit can get so hot that the track melts, and in Winter the circuit is inundated with rain.


However, maybe a bit more thought needs to go into what time of the year the event is held. Never before has Hampton Downs seen such extensive flooding.


Full credit must go to the crews who helped get it drained though. By the end of Saturday when qualifying took place the circuit was almost completely dry.

What did you think of the Ferrari Challenge? Leave a comment via the velocitynews.co.nz Facebook page