It looks as if Shane van Gisbergen will get a hometown victory lap when the Supercars return to Pukekohe in November.
As he romps through the early races of this year’s series, now equalling the record for the best start to a season, he is a near-certainty to have locked-down his second Supercars crown by the time this year’s series reaches New Zealand.
Covid-19 crushed any hope of a trans-Tasman raid in 2019 but the new coronavirus ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has allowed Supercars and its partners to engage top gear for the run into Pukekehoe as the second-last race of this year’s championship.
The date for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint is now locked for November 6-7, even though there is still considerably uncertainty around the return of Formula One to Australia in late November.
The announcement of the Kiwi plan came a day after van Gisbergen claimed his sixth straight Supercars win, equalling the record season starts of Allan Moffat in 1977 and Mark Skaife in 1994, in Tasmania.
He is now the unbackable favourite for this year’s championship, which points to a potential record attendance at Pukekoe thanks to local fan support and the chance for Australian followers of Supercars to make a quarantine-free trip to Auckland.
“We’ve been working closely with Auckland Unlimited and ITM to put this event in place and we are excited to return,” said Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer.
But the return to Pukekehoe is bad news for Hampton Downs, which was drafted in for 2019 when plans for an Anzac Day event were in doubt because of a ban on major events in the Auckland region.
Seamer thanked the management at the reserve circuit and said Hampton Downs is “still very much on our radar”.
The 2021 visit to New Zealand will make the 20th anniversary of Supercars first trip across the Tasman and will include the awarding of the traditional Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.