A small administrative oversight could have massive implications on Supercars' long-term future in New Zealand.
An obscure piece of legislation, which prevents Pukekohe Park Raceway from making any noise (and essentially hosting a race meeting) on Anzac Day, has thrown the proverbial spanner in the works as negotiations begin around the 2021 event and beyond.
It has just complicated once straight-forward discussions.
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Hampton Downs will host this year's round , coming onto the calendar at short notice.
Pukekohe Park Raceway won't be out of pocket despite not playing host as was originally planned – that cost is something being sucked up by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). But 2020 marks the final year of the current contract between Supercars and ATEED for Auckland to host a round of the championship and how Hampton Downs performs in a few months could impact what happens in the future.
Well over 100,000 people attend the three-day event at Pukekohe Park each year, making the venue an attractive destination for the championship. A New Zealand round ensures the Australian championship is considered "international" by the FIA and other parties, while a round on Kiwi shores generates greater interest and therefore improved television rights, making it one of the most secure events on the calendar.
Pukekohe Park remains the only race track in the Auckland Council boundaries.
A new deal between ATEED and Supercars that would see Pukekohe continue as host seemed a formality a couple of months ago. But the events of the past couple of weeks have muddied the waters.
Hampton Downs has long been touted as a better racing track alternative to the ageing Pukekohe Park. Sure, it doesn't have the long history or the iconic Supercars memories but it has state of the art facilities and will provide a better racing product for television simply due to the more modern track layout. The international circuit at Hampton Downs will provide a longer lap than Pukekohe and viewing for spectators is very good there, as they are at Pukekohe.
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The big problem for Hampton Downs and the reason why it hasn't been seriously considered to host rounds of the championship before is that it lies 15 minutes over the Auckland Council boundary in the North Waikato region, therefore not meeting ATEED's needs for returning investment into its own region.
But that small clerical oversight has forced ATEED to move to Hampton Downs anyway and the prevailing thought is the majority of benefits will still provide returns to the Auckland region.
The simple reality is that if Hampton Downs didn't exist, there wouldn't be a New Zealand round of Supercars this year.
So assuming ATEED felt this option was significantly better what then if it proves a success? The location excuse is essentially out the window now. The Hampton Downs track is world class and the novelty of seeing the cars at a new venue will be a major attraction for spectators.
Assuming Hampton Downs does a good job of hosting, they will also have fashioned some key relationships with Supercars and ATEED. Supercars will also have some hard evidence of what a round would be like there as opposed to Pukekohe.
It could be that Hampton Downs becomes a better location for Auckland to host a round in future. An alternative is that the two tracks alternate somehow, either year-on-year or by getting three-year alternative arrangements.
Either way, this is not great news for Pukekohe Park, which has done nothing wrong but stands to be the big loser – all because of an unknown line in the Auckland Unitary Plan.