New Zealand A1GP driver Jonny Reid has welcomed the news that his homeland is set to host a round of the 2006-07 series, following confirmation that the picturesque Taupo facility will play a part in the category's second season.

New Zealand is slated to host the sixth round of campaign over 20-21 January, rewarding the country for its support from the start of the initiative. Reid, along with Matt Halliday one of the New Zealand team's two drivers last season, claims that the prospect of a round 'at home' is 'fantastic news.'

"An A1GP in New Zealand will be the biggest single-seater motorsport event since the Tasman Series in the 1970s, when the likes of Keke Rosberg and other drivers who were to go on to compete in F1 used to come down here and race," he explained, "A1GP is the World Cup of motorsport, so it is a truly world-class series pitting nation against nation. There is no other motorsport event like it."

With the likes of Reid and 2003 world kart champion Wade Cunningham following in the footsteps of Scott Dixon, and a new generation of karting stars like Chris van der Drift, Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber, Dominic Storey and Shane Van Gisbergen coming up through the ranks, New Zealand motorsport is currently going through a purple patch, and the allocation of an A1GP round, like that to Zandvoort next season, is acknowledgement of that.

Reid says he has long dreamed of returning home to compete in front of his fellow Kiwis, but so far he has not had the opportunity. However, if A1GP round at the new Taupo Motorsport Park goes ahead as planned - the venue having recently won a $2 million grant from the NZ government conditional on it attracting 'an international event' in the near future - he could well get his chance.

"Having a local driver helps draw a bigger crowd. Even last year, when I drove in Germany, then again in Australia, I saw a huge difference between the two meetings. At my first race at the Lausitzring, Team New Zealand had little support, except obviously via the TV broadcast. But, at the second race I drove at, which was held at Eastern Creek in Sydney, we had a lot of support and it was a truly overwhelming weekend for me.

"A round in New Zealand will also give all the young up-and-coming drivers at home a first-hand opportunity to see what the future might hold for them. So, yes, this is a huge step forward."

Reid also paid tribute to the government for the grant awarded to Taupo.

"What more could a New Zealand driver ask than to be given the opportunity to race in an A1GP race in New Zealand, particularly at a circuit where the facilities are brand new and world class?" he admitted, "This investment is great news for motorsport in New Zealand in general and, in particular, for the New Zealand A1GP team. To have an international standard facility is just what New Zealand motorsport needs right now."

 

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