Only the best for 2016 NZGP

FAN engagement has taken pole position in determining the support racing categories invited to the 2016 New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.

“Motorsport is about excitement – and Manfeild has an enviable reputation as being the circuit in New Zealand that continually sets a high standard for this,” comments Julie Keane, general manager of the Feilding facility.

Accordingly, in deciding support classes for the eighth consecutive New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild, on February 12-14, 2016, one aspect above all others came into play: What best satisfies fan passion?

“The Manfeild summer series round is the premier domestic circuit motor-racing event and it is historically the biggest national and international race meeting at our venue.

“As the home of the NZGP since 2008 and the rights’ holder through to 2017, we keenly feel the weight of responsibility for this event and new opportunity to fully determine what classes come for the weekend is welcomed.

“We now have the unique autonomy to cherry pick, with the full and enthusiastic backing of MotorSport New Zealand, the classes we think are most appropriate to supporting the national series participation that centres around the core Toyota Racing Series activity.

“Being allowed this status was a great opportunity for our team to think extra hard about the spectacle … what makes people smile, what makes them stand up and cheer … what provides a memorable weekend that’ll be talked about for a long time afterward.”

The ideal of distilling that feel-good into an essence might seem farfetched, but that’s the impetus for a final determination that, Mrs Keane believes, brings the very best of national circuit motorsport.

“If you think of this as a box of chocolates, then these are the taste sensation favourites everyone in the family squabbles over.”

Which means? “Close racing, fast racing, loud racing, historic cars, latest cars … all from well-subscribed fields. That’s another requisite for making the cut here – we demanded categories that would provide full grids.”

The strong regional support, confidence and pride in Manfeild is a dynamic that drives the venue to continually seek out new and exciting ways to support the race meeting to the level it deserved, Mrs Keane said.

“We think we have come up with a sensational package to support the New Zealand Grand Prix, a race in its 61st year that’s firmly established as a great national sporting event of international interest.”

An agreement to unite the country’s top racing categories under one Premier Racing Calendar banner has simply broadened the choice.

While top billing of course remains with Toyota Racing Series, for which the Grand Prix remains a series finale, Mrs Keane suggests the allure of no less than three sizzling V8 categories, four single-seater divisions – with the sensational Formula 5000s chasing the TRS category for fastest lap times – and several classes renowned for centimetre-close competition will be an unbeatable draw.

“TRS provides NZ fans rare opportunity to see emergent talent with Formula One aspiration … and the New Zealand Grand Prix is the race meeting where those drivers put it all on the line.

“However, we know the same passion fuels the driving in the New Zealand Touring Cars – which now embrace the V8 SuperTourers and both NZV8s categories – the UDC V8 utes, in Formula Ford and Formula Firsts, in the SsangYong Summer Series and in the Toyota Finance 86 Championship.”

Five of the eight classes are to be televised for delayed broadcast, some of the action being beamed internationally, last season to an unprecedented 83 countries.

“That means Manfeild is set to enjoy unsurpassed national and international exposure. The high level of international participation in the New Zealand Grand Prix and Toyota Racing Series ensures global interest in itself, but beyond that there are also television packages for the V8 and ute–racing categories.”

The categories for the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting are: Toyota Racing Series, Toyota Finance 86 Championship, New Zealand Touring Cars, UDC V8 Utes, the SsangYong Race Series, Formula Ford, Formula First and Formula 5000.

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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