Pukekohe ready for return of V8s

By Steve Deane

Four days to go: Race infrastructure, paid for by Hamilton City ratepayers, installed with other improvements.

Christian Butler is the design manager for IEDM, the company that took on the redevelopment. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Christian Butler is the design manager for IEDM, the company that took on the redevelopment. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Millions of dollars of race track infrastructure, paid for by Hamilton City ratepayers, has been permanently installed at the redeveloped Pukekohe Park Raceway, with Hamilton receiving a fraction of the value of the transferred assets.

New timing and race control buildings, pits infrastructure, crash barriers and debris fencing are among the assets transferred to Pukekohe for the return of V8 Supercars after an unsuccessful five-year stint in Hamilton.

An Audit New Zealand report into the losses incurred by Hamilton City found that $17,979,000 of the total $37,460,700 cost the event incurred was spent on infrastructure assets.

Those assets were transferred to V8 Supercars for a payment of $1.25 million when Hamilton City exited its seven-year deal to host the event two years early.

V8 Supercars then contributed $2.2 million of the $6.6 million for the upgrade of Pukekohe - a figure which is understood to have included the transferred assets.

The remaining $4.4 million came from Auckland Council's events arm Ateed ($2.2 million) and a one-off central government grant ($2.2 million).

As well as the new buildings, barriers and fencing, the raceway has undergone extensive improvements to the track and pit lane area; earthworks to ease drainage problems and create better viewing areas; the instalment of a new foot bridge to access new viewing areas in the in-field; and a refurbishment of the bleachers seating in the general admission area.

The work was completed by IEDM, a company that builds racetracks for V8 Supercars.

"We had two lists when we started - a wish list and a have- to-have list," said event director Greg Mosen. "We've actually hit both. It's just unbelievable what these guys have done."

The upgrades have seen Pukekohe granted an FIA category three licence, meaning it can host "tin tops" such as the V8s and the less powerful classes of open wheel race cars. "It looks superb," star Kiwi V8 driver Greg Murphy said. "Pukekohe has been in dire need of an upgrade for a very long time. It's getting the investment that it needed a long, long time ago."

The upgrades haven't impressed everybody, with motor cycle racers cancelling a practice day because of concerns over the placement of the new safety barriers on the corner leading into the home straight. Critics have also suggested the upgrade has fallen short of what was promised.

Murphy said it was "easy to throw rocks" and spending public money on events would never please everybody who didn't have a direct interest. "We are not just rev heads hooning around and burning up petrol. We are putting New Zealand and Auckland on the map every time we come here. It's all about TV audiences and exposure. We are a big event and we make a lot of people happy."

The new Puke

*Track increased in length from 2.84 to 2.91km
*Three new turns on the back straight (5,6 and 7), making 11 total
*10,000m2 of new level hardstand area
*7000 cubic metres of bulk earthworks
*New impact absorbing concrete barrier and debris fence
*New race control and timing buildings
*New corporate viewing facility opposite main grandstand
*New pedestrian bridge for access to infield viewing area
*Improved driver safety with revised runoffs, tyre walls, transition kerbs and gravel traps

What it cost

*$6.6 million, consisting of $2.2 million from Auckland Council Events arm Ateed; $2.2 million from central government; and $2.2 from V8 Supercars
*Ateed is also paying a $1 million a year sponsorship fee over five years and has a budget of $550,000 a year for promotional activity, making the total council investment $10.6 million over five years
*Ateed project the event to inject $7 million into the Auckland economy each year and generate close to 50,000 bed nights in the region.

- NZ Herald

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