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New Zealand race gets 'green light'

NEWS STORY
11/08/2006

The New Zealand round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has been confirmed, with Taupo hosting the sixth round of the Series on 21 January 2007.

The announcement was made in Auckland today by A1GP chief operating officer David Clare in the presence of Prime Minister Helen Clark, key Cabinet Minister Trevor Mallard and the race managers.

Taupo will be the first meeting of 2007. The event has been sanctioned by MotorSport New Zealand, and will be managed and promoted jointly by A1GP, MIT (the operators of the Taupo Motorsport Park) and A1 Team.NZL.

New Zealand franchise holder Colin Giltrap says the A1GP round will be the biggest motorsport event seen in New Zealand for 50 years.

"Not since the halcyon days of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in the 1950s have we hosted such a major motorsport event," Mr Giltrap said. "This is a major coup for motorsport and will have far-reaching benefits for the country as a whole – economically and from a profile perspective."

More than 20 countries compete in the nation versus nation series, which starts its second season in the Netherlands on 1 October, and the London-based Clare says A1GP is thrilled to be heading to New Zealand.

"Given A1's growth and the increasing popularity of motorsport, it is an opportunity that needed to be seized now and I'm sure Taupo will host a memorable event and showcase this beautiful country to the world," Mr Clare said.

"New Zealand always punches above its weight on the world stage and the team's performance in finishing fourth in the inaugural championship simply highlighted the Kiwi team's talent and professionalism."

The New Zealand Government has confirmed it will provide $2 million over the next three years to enable the Taupo Motorsport Park to upgrade its facilities.

Trevor Mallard, the Minister for Economic Development as well as the Minister for Sport and Recreation, said A1GP's drive to include Taupo was another example of the country's ability to host world-class events.

"This is a major achievement for New Zealand motorsport and a huge fillip for the tourism and event industries," Mr Mallard said.

"We're eagerly anticipating the Rugby World Cup and World Rowing Champs in 2011. Now, we have a prestigious motorsport event taking place and it's just around the corner.

"I'm sure New Zealanders will embrace such a quality event being held in our backyard and, as a government, we're pleased to have helped with funding and will now be examining how we can leverage this significant opportunity."

The countries involved in A1GP account for 80% of the world's population and David Clare is certain the impressive media coverage of the inaugural Series will be enhanced in its second year.

In Season One A1GP had an average live television audience of 7.7 million for each round across 37 networks in 120 countries, with 127 different programmes generated per round. Some 2000 media representatives attended the 11 events.

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