Motorsport: Hampton Downs races to finish

By Eric Thompson

New Zealand's newest motorsport complex, Hampton Downs, just south of Auckland, is starting to look like a race circuit.

There have been a few rumblings around the traps that it may not be ready in time for the proposed A1GP races in November, but with the metal down it's coming together rather quickly.

Managing director Tony Roberts says: "We're looking at getting the seal down in July and be ready for driver training in August and our first race in September."

The complex is made up of three sealed circuits, pit buildings, industrial units, business park, lifestyle blocks, convention centre, restaurant and trackside apartments. Construction started in February 2007, and should have been completed about now. However, due to an appalling winter last year, construction got more than a bit behind, but with hard work and long hours over the summer some lost time has been made up.

The Hampton Downs Motorsport Park is located near the existing Meremere drag strip and oval. The goal has been to build an entertainment venue for the promotion of motor racing in New Zealand. The venue is proposed to be the premier venue in New Zealand and reflects a modern approach to circuit design and associated amenities.

There will be an emphasis on driver training and a testing facility. Some privately owned trackside apartments, with two-car garaging beneath and a balcony overlooking the race track, will be available for renting. The pits will have extensive garaging with corporate boxes above, while a tunnel entrance will allow for access at all times to the infield pit area. There will be industrial units to support the Motorsport Park activities and many other sporting activities can be catered for as well.

The relatively new Corrections Department facility and the nearby landfill at Hampton Downs has altered the existing rural flavour of the area and made a Motorsport Park an ideal neighbour.

The new State Highway 1 Expressway direct from Auckland (68km) and a similar upgrading from Hamilton (65km) ensure ready access to the Park in only 40 minutes from either city. Hampton Downs has a full intersection with its new overbridge to ensure easy access to the venue from carparks. The facility straddles a population base of over two million people incorporating the greater Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty areas.

Everything is coming together nicely. The attractive lifestyle blocks are completed, with two new roads - Chris Amon Drive and Graham McRae Place - being constructed. Finances are a subject many people ask about and management is pleased that BNZ continues with its ongoing funding for the project. The bank has confirmed a further $19 million towards an operational international circuit, bridge, corporate pavilion, SUV course, skid pan, pit paddock, telecommunications, power, wastewater, drainage, carparks, three-laning of Hampton Downs Rd, industrial buildings, business park development etc.

Completion of Hampton Downs moved a step closer recently with the delivery of furniture to the apartments.

Rental of the apartments began last month - they operate like motels and can accommodate up to five people.

The final design and full FIA simulation analysis as a Category 2 circuit has now been completed by Clive Bowen of Apex Circuit Design. Bowen's design philosophy, working from the original layout defined by Roberts and Watson, was to incorporate the views of drivers, teams and the FIA into a sequence of corners and straights that should provide good racing, spectator viewing and safe use for drivers of all abilities.

Unlike other tracks in New Zealand, this circuit has plenty of rise and fall. Added to this are two long straights and at least four good passing opportunities around the full circuit. The 3.8km large circuit has nine corners, five right-hand and four left-hand.

The main straight is 950m long, with a kink in the middle and a 12m rise and fall. The back straight is a flat 750m. Circuit direction is clockwise.

The club circuit has its own infrastructure, including parking and a driver training hall. This track is 1.2km long with four corners. The medium circuit is 2.8km, with six corners and hilly contours. This circuit incorporates the long front straight and pit garages.

Both these circuits already have training and corporate days committed upon their completion.

The two circuits sit on 56ha while a further 101ha will contain an industrial park, camping ground, lifestyle blocks and recreational vehicle course.

* For more information, call (09) 520 7841 or email motorlodge@hamptondowns.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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