Auckland Council has given the ITM Auckland SuperSprint the thumbs up with a little over 105,000 people turning up to watch the Supercars at Pukekohe Park Raceway over the weekend.
The crowd total was just short of what was recorded in 2016 although wet weather affected both Friday and Saturday. Nearly 40,000 packed into the track on Sunday to watch Jamie Whincup edge Kiwi Scott McLaughlin to win the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.
The new format used this year saw drivers complete two 200km races over the weekend, with two compulsory pit stops, and produced a much better spectacle for fans, prompting approval from ATEED [the council's events arm].
"Record numbers today added to the on track excitement for yet another memorable Auckland stopover for the Supercars Championship," Steve Armitage, GM Destination - ATEED said.
"Favourable weather meant that the hill was jam-packed, and the grandstands and corporate zones were completely sold out.
"The revised race format worked really well, with the longer races ensuring that tactics and pit crew performance added to the overall spectacle. The crowd certainly seemed to love it.
"It now shapes up as a battle between Jamie and Scott for Championship honours, and we wish Scott all the best in Newcastle for what could be his first Supercars Championship."
ATEED's positive review gives hope that a new three-year extension will be signed in the coming weeks to ensure the championship returns to Pukekohe. The two parties reached a memorandum of understanding a few weeks ago that outlined the financial investment from the city and Supercars are comfortable with the upgrades made to the ageing track despite some teething issues over the weekend.
Rain on the new surface of the track created problems on Saturday, which resulted in qualifying being canceled, but the upgrades worked well in the dry. It is thought that as the new seal ages and weathers it will be less of an issue moving forward.
The championship finale is at Newcastle in three weeks and it is hoped an agreement to return to Pukekohe will be in place by then.