The V8 Supercars Championship will return to Pukekohe Raceway for the first time in five years

After five races in the 2013 championship, the top three drivers in the points – Jamie Whincup, Will Davison and James Courtney – are all yet to win a race.

It is with this interesting statistic and a very short turnaround that we head to New Zealand this weekend for the ITM 400 Auckland on the Pukekohe circuit. It will be the first time the series has returned to the circuit since 2007.

The Circuit

2013 ITM 400 AUCKLAND 
Pukekohe Raceway
Date: 12-14 April 2013
Venue: Pukekohe Raceway, near Auckland, New Zealand
Lap Length: 2.91km
Race Lap Record: Inaugural event on the revised circuit layout
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 (lower 50% in points table) Fri 10:10-10:40
Free Practice Session 2 (all drivers) Fri 12:05-12:35
Free Practice Session 3 (all drivers) Fri 14:00-14:30
Free Practice Session 4  (all drivers) Fri 15:35-16:05
Race 6 Qualifying Sat 09:35-09:50
  Race 7 Qualifying Sat 10:00-10:15
  Race 6 Top-10 Qualifying Shootout Sat 11:00-11:30
  Race 6 (34 laps, 100km) Sat 13:10-13:55
Race 7 (34 laps, 100km) Sat 15:55-16:40
Race 8 Qualifying Sun 10:05-10:20
  Race 9 Qualifying Sun 10:30-10:45
Race 8 (34 laps, 100km) Sun 13:10-13:55
Race 9 (34 laps, 100km) Sun 15:55-16:40

The Pukekohe circuit, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year is fresh off the press after a $6.6 million dollar upgrade. Originally a horse racing circuit, it also served as a GP circuit for a spell, hosting names such as Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.

The track is an altered 2.91 km (from its previous 2.8km iteration) and is an extremely fast circuit – seen as one of the fastest in the southern hemisphere. There is a good hairpin as well…

The new circuit has been slowed with a chicane added on the back straight; current Championship leader Jamie Whincup had a few laps around the revamped circuit and seemed pleased.

Jamie Whincup goes on a hot lap of the new Pukekohe Raceway

“I think it is fantastic,” Whincup said. “I have had a bit of fun today and got 20-odd laps around here. It brings back some memories. It still has the character it had when we raced here back in the early 2000s.

“The new stuff has spiced it up. It is much cleaner and much safer now for the drivers and that is the most important thing. I can’t wait for it to clean up and put new tyres on it for qualifying.”

Considering this is an almost new circuit, it will be interesting to see how all the cars fare!

Talking Points

Historically, this has been a circuit dominated by Holden. Between 2001 and 2007, 20 out of the 21 races on the circuit were taken by Holden. Will this continue?

Fabian Coulthard and Brad Jones Racing will be coming into this weekend on a high and quite confident. Given the home crowd advantage, their previous form over the last two meets and Holden’s history, it’s all there for the taking. It will be even sweeter if BJR were able to take home the Jason Richard’s Memorial Trophy as well…

Pukekohe Raceway has always produced close racing

Looking at the rest of the field, of the active drivers, Tander has the most wins at three, followed by Bright at two.

Erebus will be leaving its drive by wire throttle technology from this race aside in favour of the cable actuation technology on the rest of the grid. Whether that will make a difference or not will be interesting.

Some of the teams will be coming into this race prepared, others not so much due to the short turnaround given Tasmania Microsoft 365 was only last week. Scott Pye’s Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden will be missing in action this weekend following his devastating wall collision last weekend, raising questions about the sensibility of organising back-to-back events on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar.

Tekno Autosports team manager Bruce Jenkins said to V8 Supercars that the only difference in preparing for the two events was the shorter timeframe.

“There’s a standard preparation we do between each and every event, which is no different even if we are away on a double header,” Jenkins said.

“We change uprights, gearboxes, look at all the componentry, service the cars and then are ready to run again.

“It was just about planning the time we had and scheduling it in between the transport of the boat and the personnel on the flight to Auckland.”

Fast Facts & Trivia

As we shared during the week, the drivers will all be competing for the Jason Richard’s Memorial Trophy named in honour of the popular V8 driver who passed away due to cancer in December 2011. As the honour coincides with the circuit’s fiftieth anniversary, it is an extra poignant occasion to commemorate and celebrate. The trophy will be awarded to the driver with the most points over the four races.

Commemorating the Trans-Tasman link this weekend will be the Holden Racing Team, which will run a special livery on the cars of James Courtney and Garth Tander in recognition of the ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand Army Corp) armed forces who have served their nations in many conflicts since the First World War.

There have been four different winners from the first five races, a spread not seen since 2008 when four different drivers shared the first five race wins of the championship.

Four of the 27 drivers on the grid are Kiwi – Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing), Shane van Gisbergen (Tekno Team VIP) Scott McLaughlin (Fujitsu Racing GRM) and Jonny Reid (Dick Johnson Racing) are all sure to bring a strong crowd in!

With four races to look forward to this weekend, it will be another enthralling round of the V8 Supercars Championship – make sure you keep visiting for all of the latest news and analysis from New Zealand!

Youth Without Borders

Yassmin Abdel-Magied
The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.