Drivers took to the track at the new Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on the first day of the Dunlop Targa rally yesterday.

The seven-day event started in Auckland and will travel down the North Island to Wellington.

Labour Day saw racing at three tracks, Pukekohe Park Raceway, Hampton Downs and Taupo.

The rally was the first motorsport event at the newly completed track near Mercer.

Hampton Downs will host races as part of Rally NZ next May.

Construction of the 3.8km racing circuit began in February 2007, but was delayed by bad weather last winter.

The circuit runs clockwise and 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.

New Zealand's newest motorsport complex, Hampton Downs is located near the existing Meremere drag strip and oval just south of Auckland.

It has three sealed circuits, pit buildings, industrial units, business park, lifestyle blocks, convention centre, restaurant and trackside apartments.

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 country's premier venue 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 will be available for renting.