Motorsport: New look Hampton Downs to open in October

Shane Van Gisbergen will be on hand to open the new look Hampton Downs in October. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen will be on hand to open the new look Hampton Downs in October. Photo / Getty Images

The new, improved Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park will reopen at the end of October after a $25 million upgrade.

The Hampton Downs 101 is a new event featuring some of the world's leading cars including Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin.

It's a little over a year ago since Tony Quinn bought Hampton Downs and promised to turn it into one of the best motorsport venues in the country. Twelve months and $25m later and the place has been transformed. The first event at the new look Hampton Downs will be the Hampton Downs 101 from October 28-30. Two weeks later, Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell in Central Otago will host the season finale of the Australian GT Championship at the Highlands 101.

Both the Hampton Downs and Highlands 101 are part of the Australian Endurance Championship, a new four-race series introduced by the GT Championship this year. The GT Championship is one of the oldest and most prestigious motorsport events in Australia and globally GT racing is growing in popularity every year.

The inaugural Highlands 101 in 2013 was the first time a round of the GT Championship was held outside Australia. Fabian Coulthard teamed up with Tony Quinn to win the first Highlands 101 and last year Shane van Gisbergen and Klark Quinn won a thrilling race.

Some of the cars that will race 101 laps around Hampton Downs and Highlands in October and November include: the Audi R8 LMS, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Ferrari 458 and 488 GT3, McLaren 650S, Lamborghini Huracan and Gallardo, Mercedes AMG and GTS GT3, Porsche 911 GT3, BMW M6 and Z4 GT3 and the Nissan GTR GT3. Tony Quinn is excited about bringing some of the best cars in the world to the North Island for the first time.

"What we've done since we bought Hampton Downs last year has been world class," says Quinn. "I've seen a lot of motorsport tracks. I've seen what works and what doesn't and I've used that knowledge at Hampton Downs. We've built a 1.2 kilometre track extension, new corporate and members' suites, new garages and a pit building and we've done a major landscaping job on the place."

"We're building a new 850 metre international go-kart track and a 4WD track and we've got some exciting plans in the pipeline to make Hampton Downs a tourist destination that people will want to visit. Our tagline is 'Experience the Exceptional' and that's what we aim to deliver at Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park - exceptional experiences. First and foremost however, I want Hampton Downs to be the number one motorsport track in New Zealand."

The 1.2km track extension has resulted in an international grand prix circuit, a 4km stretch of tarmac that promises to deliver some compelling racing over the coming years. Other classes that will feature as part of the Hampton Downs 101 festival of motorsport in October include the Central Muscle Cars and the Aussie Racing Cars, one of the most popular classes in Australia. The NZ Racing Cars category will make its debut at the Hampton Downs 101 festival.

As part of the redevelopment at Hampton Downs there are new sheltered viewing areas and a new bar and restaurant with decking overlooking one of the longest straights on any racetrack in the country. There will be lots of family friendly activities and live entertainment at both the Hampton Downs and Highlands 101.

- NZ Herald

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