The New Zealand round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has been confirmed, with the remodelled Taupo circuit definitely hosting the sixth round of the series on 21 January.

The announcement was made by A1GP chief operating officer David Clare in the presence of NZ prime minister Helen Clark, key cabinet minister Trevor Mallard and the race managers in Auckland, and follows confirmation that earthworks at the picturesque venue had been completed in time for the A1 series to visit. Taupo will now be the first A1GP meeting of 2007.

"Not since the halcyon days of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in the 1950s have we hosted such a major motorsport event," New Zealand franchise holder Colin 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.

"This time last year, we were announcing that we were proud to have secured one of the exclusive seats on board the A1GP express. Then we went and finished a prominent fourth in the historic first-ever series. Now we're confirmed to host a round, one of only twelve countries to be accorded that honour. It has been a remarkable ride, and being in Taupo next January, knowing that the motorsport world is taking great interest, will be simply incredible."

Clare admitted that, after New Zealand's strong showing in the 2005-06 championship, A1GP was thrilled to be heading 'down under'.

"Given A1GP'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," he 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 that it will provide $2million over the next three years to enable the Taupo Motorsport Park to upgrade its facilities, while Mallard, the minister for economic development, as well as sport and recreation, said that 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," he explained, "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."

David Steele, managing director of track manager MIT, said that the Taupo track was being upgraded to meet the requirements needed to run races of A1GP's calibre, and promised a fast and exciting circuit for the series to compete on.

"It's not just the track that will receive a makeover," he continued, "The government funding will be used primarily to build a pit-lane complex, as well as media and corporate facilities in keeping with the stature of an A1GP event."

Steele added that accommodation had already been booked for the A1GP teams, while an announcement regarding the sale of tickets was imminent.

"We will work alongside Motorsport New Zealand and A1 Team NZL to release details as soon as we possibly can," he confirmed, "Tickets should be on sale early September."

 

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