Public support for Highlands’ bid for NZ Grand Prix
Highlands’ high-tech control room in use during November’s Highland 101 event. Photo: Simon Darby.
Highlands Motorsport Park
10 January 2013
Public support for Highlands’ bid for New Zealand Grand Prix
Dick Bennetts, the highly successful and respected expat Kiwi head of the UK-based motorsport team West Surrey Racing, is one of many supporting Highlands Motorsport Park’s bid to host the 2015-17 New Zealand Grand Prix races.
Bennetts, currently in Central Otago, made time to visit Highlands last week where he toured the facility and circuit with general manager Mike Sentch.
“With the New Zealand Grand Prix having been run at Manfeild for the past six years, it’s time to give another circuit the opportunity to run the event. I’d seen Highlands online from my UK base and now that I’ve been there and seen the actual facilities and met Tony and his team, it’s all very impressive. I’m not knocking Manfeild, but it’s been there six years so what better place than Highlands?” says Bennetts.
“In terms of access for spectators it’s right up there with a lot of European circuits and the location is ideal, close to Queenstown international airport. The layout of the circuit allows you to race different options and I was very impressed with the electronic timing. The speed of the electronics must be a great safety bonus.
“To me, it’s an opportunity for the Grand Prix to have a fresh approach.”
Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn appreciates Dick Bennetts taking the time to visit Highlands and the dozens of messages of support from motorsport fans around the country for the New Zealand Grand Prix to come to Highlands.
“It’s great to have such positive comments from such a well-respected motorsport personality as Dick Bennetts,” says Quinn.
“We’re also delighted by the many, many supportive posts shared by fans via social media. I wonder if some people know very much about the history and prestige that the New Zealand Grand Prix once had. That’s just one aspect Highlands would like to change if we’re successful with our proposal to host the 2015-17 events.”
Quinn adds: “By the time event comes, our team will have several more major events under our belts. We’ll be even sharper and even better at delivering an international-standard operation for competitors and guests alike.”
The Highlands team is just two weeks away hosting from its next major motor race meeting, the combined V8 SuperTourer and Toyota Racing Series meeting over the weekend of 25 and 26 January. An enhanced spectator area, the Silver Fern Berm, will be in use for this meeting and Quinn says further spectator areas will be ready for Easter’s huge Highlands Speed Revival classic race festival.
“We’d like to create a new benchmark for what the New Zealand Grand Prix can be, to re-establish it as an iconic event on the New Zealand and world sporting calendars. With Central Otago being such a great part of the country, the location only adds to what we hope to do with the New Zealand Grand Prix.”
MotorSport New Zealand’s decision will be announced at the 6 to 9 February running of the 2014 New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild as the race is contested by this year’s Toyota Racing Series competitors.