Prospective competitors are enthusiastic about the brand-new NZ Racing Cars Championship, which will be launched in New Zealand at the high profile V8 Supercars event, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, in November.
Based on the hugely entertaining Aussie Racing Cars Super Series, the new NZ Racing Cars series will use exactly the same fast, half-size race cars – and that link plays a large role in why there’s so much interest in the new series says Mike Sentch, general manager of Highlands Motorsport Park who is overseeing the series launch.
“The response to date from interested competitors has been fantastic,” says Sentch. “People can see it’s a strong series to get involved with and the potential for genuine trans-Tasman competition appeals to many.”
Sentch says up to six of the Aussie Racing Cars’ competitors plan to leave their race cars in New Zealand after their grand finale at the glamourous Australian GT and Hampton Downs 101 endurance event in October.
“These guys will then compete in the five round New Zealand series, which takes place during the offseason in Australia and includes a combined Kiwi-Aussie grid for the inaugural NZ Racing Cars round at the V8 Supercars’ event, which is going to be fantastic.
“Having the experienced Australians racing in our series will give our Kiwi competitors a great benchmark to target in terms of the pace and lap times possible in these pocket rocket racing cars.
“Of course, the reciprocal can happen with New Zealand competitors heading over to race in the Aussie Racing Cars Super Series, either in their own car or using one of the lease cars available in Australia.”
The Aussie Racing Cars is a popular V8 Supercars support class and races on a variety of Australian racing circuits including the Adelaide street circuit, Phillip Island Grand Prix track and Northern Territory’s Hidden Valley Raceway.
Sentch is running two NZ Racing Cars test days at Highlands on 30 April and Hampton Downs on 8 May and says participation numbers are growing by the day.
“We have two cars in New Zealand for the test days at Highlands and Hampton Downs. Competitors are invited to register their interest in participating in either test day by emailing info @nzracingcars.co.nz (without the space). A test day fee will apply and includes a briefing, two track sessions and a debrief with our professional driver Andrew Waite.”
Eight chassis have already been built, ready for the New Zealand series when it starts in just over six months, and more are in production with the expectation that around 20 cars are likely to contest the inaugural NZ Racing Cars Championship.
Sentch says: “Remember, fields of up to 55 Aussie Racing Cars are not uncommon. The energetic, evenly-matched style of racing at the one-off New Zealand appearance of the Aussie Racing Cars during the 2015 Highlands Festival of Speed was very much appreciated by Kiwi spectators.”
Each identical Aussie/NZ Racing Car is powered by a 1.2-litre, 125bhp, twin cam, 16 valve engine that revs to 11,500rpm and because each car weighs only 450kg, these little racers have an incredible power-to-weight ratio and will easily reach 230km/h or more on the Highlands’ circuit straights.
“We look forward to welcoming participants to the NZ Racing Cars test days at Highlands and Hampton Downs. As Shane van Gisbergen says, they offer a fantastic stepping stone in a burgeoning racing career or a way to return to competition, so we’re expecting a diverse field of competitors, young and more experienced.”