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Highlands formalises bid for New Zealand Grand Prix

Highlands formalises bid for New Zealand Grand Prix

Highlands Motorsport Park has formally presented a proposal to MotorSport New Zealand to host the New Zealand Grand Prix from 2015 to 2017.

The New Zealand Grand Prix is currently the feature race of the Toyota Racing Series season. For the past six years, it’s been run at the Manfeild Autocourse near Palmerston North and before that at Teretonga Park near Invercargill, Pukekohe Park Raceway and Christchurch’s Ruapuna Park.

Highlands’ owner Tony Quinn says: “One of the things on my bucket list is to hold the New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands and I will do whatever it takes to accommodate this. When MotorSport New Zealand put out a statement regarding the hosting of the New Zealand Grand Prix from 2015 onwards for three years, we said we would like to host it at Highlands. So the presentation on 14 December was our formal submission to the MotorSport New Zealand executive committee.

“We want the New Zealand Grand Prix to be the first Grand Prix of each year, before the opening round of the Formula 1 season in Melbourne in March. The Toyota Racing Series already does a fantastic job in signing a range of up-and-coming Kiwi and international race drivers to drive New Zealand’s premier single seater class. By raising the profile of the New Zealand Grand Prix, Highlands aims to add a whole new level of international interest in New Zealand motorsport and these young stars. It can only benefit our local motorsport scene in the longer term.”

Highlands general manager Mike Sentch, who accompanied Quinn, business development officer Josie Spillane and PR/events manager Mel Kees to Wellington to make the presentation, comments: “Our proposal was very well received and the executive members could see Highlands would take a different angle to promoting the New Zealand Grand Prix which, over the decade or two, has lost some of the lustre and prestige it once had.”

“The MotorSport New Zealand executive was open to new ideas and interested to know more about our ideas to bring a level of glitz and glamour returned to this unique event on the world calendar.”

Sentch adds: “When you consider that the New Zealand Grand Prix is one of only two current national Grand Prix events that are not part of the Formula One calendar, the other being the Macau Grand Prix, this is should make the event particularly noteworthy, both nationally and internationally. From the mid-1960s to the mid-‘70s, when it was part of the Tasman Series, the whole motor racing world followed the New Zealand Grand Prix.

“The New Zealand Grand Prix can be a destination event, not unlike premier horse races such as the New Zealand Derby and New Zealand Cup. They attract the diehard enthusiasts and those who may not watch the sport day to day, but love being part of the fun and excitement of a world-class sporting event.”

The Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes mayors have thrown their weight behind bid by the Highlands bid to host the New Zealand Grand Prix with Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper saying: “Highlands is a facility like no other… I have no doubt that the dedicated team at Highlands can deliver a package that will re-establish the New Zealand Grand Prix as a premier motor racing event for all concerned. They have already shown that they can deliver as promised and on time. Their vision and contribution to our district has already been outstanding and the chance to focus on this event will lift their efforts and results to yet another level of ‘superb’.”

Sentch says an announcement regarding the 2015 to 2017 host of the New Zealand Grand Prix will be made at the 2014 race at Manfeild.

After November’s first-ever race meeting at Highlands, which attracted more than 25,000 spectators to the three-day Highlands 101 event, the Highlands team is currently preparing for January’s double-header with the Toyota Racing Series and BNT V8 SuperTourers. Support classes for the 25-26 January race meeting, which represents the first time the hugely popular SuperTourer class has raced this far south, are the UDC V8 Utes and Autosure Central Muscle Cars. Tickets are now available from the Highlands Motorsport Park office (EFTPOS and credit card only) or online from

Fans can keep up with news and events from Highlands Motorsport Park by signing up for free e-newsletters via the website,, or following Highlands on Facebook and Twitter.


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