New Zealand motorsport fans will have a brand-new motor racing championship to enjoy this summer with the launch of the NZ Racing Cars Championship which uses exactly the same fast, half-size race cars as the entertaining Aussie Racing Cars Super Series.
The Aussie Racing Cars are hugely well-supported with fields of up to 55 cars at some events, making it the largest motorsport category in Australia and one which is frequently voted the most entertaining support category at Australian V8 Supercar events. In 2014, Aussie Racing Cars marked its tenth anniversary of being an official support category for V8 Supercars, a partnership which continues in 2016. The Aussie Racing Cars made a one-off New Zealand appearance at Highlands Motorsport Park during the Highlands Festival of Speed in January 2015 where the energetic, evenly-matched style of racing was very much appreciated by Kiwi spectators.
Like the Aussie Racing Cars, the NZ Racing Cars series is owned by Tony Quinn, who also owns Highlands Motorsport Park and Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
Mike Sentch, Highlands’ general manager, says: “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.
“The new one-make series will hit the track for the first time in New Zealand with test days at Highlands (30 April) and Hampton Downs (8 May). Sanctioned by MotorSport New Zealand, the NZ Racing Cars Series will incorporate five rounds, commencing at the ITM 400 V8 Supercar event in Auckland this November and continuing as part of next summer’s Premier Motorsport summer season.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A test day a fee will apply and includes a briefing, two track sessions and a debrief with our professional driver Andrew Waite.”
Kiwi race star Shane van Gisbergen describes the pocket-rocket Aussie/NZ Racing Cars as “ace”.
“I have raced cars all over the world and they are right up there as one of the most exciting cars to race,” says van Gisbergen. “The race craft skills you learn is what makes these cars a great stepping stone or re-entry into competitive motorsport, from beginners to pros, NZ Racing Cars will suit all. And best of all, being a Trans-Tasman class means we can take it to the Aussies!”
Highlands professional driver Andrew Waite adds: “NZ Racing cars are the most fun you can possibly have at a race track. The cars are great to drive and an even better way to improve your driving skills as they respond like any proper race car yet they are very forgiving. Once you get out on track, it is impossible to not start smiling from ear to ear. What is even more satisfying, is how much fun the cars are to drive amongst a field filled with 40-plus other cars!”
Sentch says competitors can choose to own or lease their NZ Racing Car. “We currently have 20 cars being built by our team in Australia and will build more to demand.
“As the New Zealand season is generally the off-season in Australia and with the cars being identical in both the New Zealand and Australian series, we can create a true trans-Tasman challenge. We expect a number of our Australian competitors to also compete in the New Zealand series because this format of racing is great fun and offers really good value.
“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.”