V8 Supercars refuse to budge on their deal to race at Pukekohe following a breakthrough today which now allows nearby Hampton Downs to host events to accommodate a capacity of 50,000 spectators.
Details of the revision of the resource consent by the Waikato District Council revealed today lifts the previous maximum crowd from 20,000 and has already sparked another furore over the controversial deal between V8 Supercars and Pukekohe.
The fresh approval contradicts an argument from V8 Supercars that Hampton Downs was not a suitable option because the resource consent would not change.
In early July the Auckland City Council approved a five-year deal for V8 Supercars to return to Pukekohe from 2013 at a cost of $10.5million.
“This is a very important day for the future of Hampton Downs as New Zealand's
premier motor racing facility” Hampton Downs managing director Tony Roberts said.
“This approval enables Hampton Downs to host major national and international events; and also removes the impediment that V8 Supercars said prevented it from bringing their event to New Zealand's best race circuit.”
Even if they wanted to, V8 Supercars could not run under these new consent arrangements at Hampton Downs because the series falls under FIA international regulations which do not permit a series from running twice in the same country.
It is also believed V8 Supercars had in place an agreement well before the series fell under those FIA restrictions not to run two rounds in New Zealand because it could potentially put a damaging drain on the domestic sponsorship dollar.
The other point is that Hampton Downs is located outside of the Auckland City Council area and falls under the governance of the Waikato District Council.
Hampton Downs worked with the Waikato District Council and the New
Zealand Transport Agency to find solutions for increased traffic volumes for major events.
V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane complimented Hampton Downs but said it had no bearing on the future of the Australian series.
“Well done to Hampton Downs but it does not impact us. We signed a five-year contract with Pukekohe, the Auckland City Council and the New Zealand Government which is now put to bed,” Cochrane told Speedcafe.com.au.
“In fact the construction work (on improvements) to Pukekohe will start in the next four weeks.”
Cochrane stated in an article with the New Zealand Herald (CLICK HERE for full story) last month that V8 Supercars had met with Hampton Downs numerous times and had become frustrated that consent problems were not being sorted out.
“We've had meetings and meetings and meetings with Hampton Downs where they've said things would get sorted but nothing has been,” Cochrane said.
“The resource consent allows 20,000 people at the track a day and I have spoken to the head of the New Zealand Transport Agency in charge of highways and they told me ‘we are not going to change that and we will fight that tooth and nail because the crowd will absolutely block up our main artery in and out of Auckland'.”
Roberts said that Hampton Downs can now look forward to continued development and has the capacity to host major international championships.
“Already Hampton Downs has 250,000 people passing through its gates each year and 2.5 million people reside within 90 minutes of the circuit,” Roberts said.
“This consent allows for the continuing development of Hampton Downs.”