24/08/2017

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RUWADE BRYANT/STUFF

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Owen Evans, driver Alexandra Whitley, Pukekohe Park COO Peter Hunt, MP Andrew Bayly & Pukekohe Park director Tim Montgomery beside 1 of 28 new garages

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Pukekohe Park has taken another step towards securing its status as the home of New Zealand motorsport with the unveiling of 28 new pit garages.

The steel garages have been built in time for this year's ITM Auckland SuperSprint on November 3-5 at a cost of $500,000.

They replace the tents used previously underneath a viewing platform and Pukekohe Park's chief operating officer, Peter Hunt says the new pits are a crucial addition to the track.

"We've now got proper pit garages for use and hire of use for organised motorsport," Hunt said.

"It's a permanent pit structure, it's watertight and powered so obviously improves the facilities for the enjoyment of motor racing.

"But also as a use for other activities. For cycling they use the garages to warm up in and we can hire those out and we're also looking at doing night markets. We can also look at trade shows.

"There are a multitude of uses for it and we see it as a great asset for Pukekohe Park."

Owen Evans, who runs motor racing teams, has a long history in New Zealand motorsport and is the father of Kiwi drivers Mitch and Simon, says drivers and teams will immediately enjoy the benefits of the new pits.

"For teams like us, to come out and race, whether it's the V8 or Audi we're running," Evans said.

"it's important to have a pit where you can operate in a good environment.

"They've done a fantastic job here. If you go to places like Manfeild, they've only got six garages, where as at Pukekohe they've for a lot now and for the likes of endurance racing, it's good to be able to come here because everyone can get a garage."

Around $1 million has been spent on upgrading the circuit over the past three years and the next job on the list is resurfacing the track.

That will cost around as much as the pits and there's not a bottomless pit of money the Counties Racing Club have to pay for improvements. They are looking at a short term option to improve the track, then a longer term one and are currently doing a feasibility study.

But Evans says the pits will help finance the resurfacing.

"You pay for the garage at a race weekend, so it could be a lucrative earner for them and they can put that money towards other things around the circuit," he said.

"Like any business, there's lots to spend, but you've got to have income coming in."

Pukekohe Park is under pressure from Manfeild, where the New Zealand Grand Prix is and Hampton Downs just down the road, to remain the premier motor racing venue in New Zealand.

While other tracks have their good points, Evans says there's nowhere like Pukekohe.

"You can't replace the heritage that Pukekohe has got.

"Every circuit has a part of it which is really good, but Pukekohe is the only one in New Zealand where you can really let loose."

National MP for Hunua Andrew Bayly, which has Pukekohe Park inside its boundaries, says the keeping the circuit up to date and retaining the New Zealand round of the Supercars series is crucial to the area.

"There have been independent surveys done of the financial impact of having these types of events in Pukekohe and it's between $8-12 million that it brings into the local economy," Bayly said.

"People to get fuel, get tyres and that sort of stuff and they stay in the local economy.

"So from that perspective, as an economic driver it's very important but in terms of positioning Pukekohe and its credibility around motorsport, this is the hub of New Zealand motorsport."

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