Auckland is currently working with Supercars to ensure it hosts a round of the series beyond 2021, says general manager destination of Auckland Unlimited Steve Armitage.
Today it was announced that Supercars would be returning to Pukekohe for this year’s annual trip to New Zealand.
However, the event is on its last legs of his current contract, which is due to end at the end of the year.
Auckland Unlimited currently pump over $1.2 million into the event, which in 2019 drew in nearly 115,000 spectators over the three days.
It is an event that Armitage says is one of Auckland Unlimited’s top performers in terms of what it returns for the city’s economy.
He says work is already underway to see how Supercars in Auckland will look from 2022.
“Supercars has been a strong performer for us in the past,” Armitage told Velocity News. “We have also seen there is interest building with a new audience.
“So, we will continue to move forward in discussions with Sean Seamer (Supercars CEO) and Supercars.
“There are some financial constraints, obviously, and we have got to be realistic. But it is hard to see a round in New Zealand without Auckland.
“So, we have started to look at how to move forward with the event from 2022 and beyond.
“First thing though is we will get this year’s race out of the way, and it is great to have some positive news to share.”
The announcement of Pukekohe hosting this year’s round comes on the eve of the opening of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble.
Armitage says that without the bubble, any chance of Supercars visiting New Zealand this year would have been nil.
“No, I don’t see how it would have been possible,” he said.
“The logistics of having Supercars get here and sorting out MIQ facilities would have been too difficult.
“At the end of last year, we felt it was the best option to have the round towards the end of the year. That would have given us the most time to wait and see what happens with the borders.”
Last year, the scheduled New Zealand round was shifted from Pukekohe to Hampton Downs due to complications with the Auckland Unitary Plan.
Ultimately, the coronavirus-induced changes to the 2020 Supercars calendar then put paid to any New Zealand event taking place.
It means Hampton Downs misses out on its opportunity to hold its maiden Supercars round.
Armitage says that having the event return to Pukekohe for 2021 was the most logical decision given that the circuit is situated inside the Auckland region.
However, he says that Supercars is actively looking at expanding its New Zealand package, with the option for a second round up for discussion.
“Auckland is our territorial authority, and that extends down towards and past Pukekohe.
“So, we are mandated to provide an event that will give a return to the Auckland city.
“Hampton Downs is conveniently located just south of the [Auckland] border, so last year we felt that was the best option short term.
“But Supercars are looking to grow in New Zealand. [Two NZ rounds] is something I would love to see, especially as our Kiwi drivers are doing really well on the track.”