Get to know: Taupō International Motorsport Park

23 Aug
Taupō will be the new home of Supercars in NZ
4 mins by James Pavey

From 2024, Taupō International Motorsport Park will be the new home of the Repco Supercars Championship in New Zealand.

So, what’s the circuit like — and what’s its story?

The Taupō circuit will become the 35th different circuit to host an ATCC/Supercars round, and the third in New Zealand.

Taupō joins Pukekohe and Hamilton in the Supercars history books as Kiwi venues to host a championship round — but it is a far different prospect to either circuit.

Where Pukekohe had dangerous, historic bends and Hamilton tight street confines, Taupō has many different characteristics that will make it a standout in Supercars.


The circuit came to life way back in 1959, when the Taupō Car Club created a short dirt track to the north-west of the town.

The circuit is surrounded in the countryside, with the volcanic mountain of Mount Tauhara acting as a spectacular backdrop.

Nearly 20 years ago in 2005, the track was lengthened thanks to investment, with the venue brought up to international standards via the help of former Formula One driver Chris Amon.

Along with the upgrades came a new pit and paddock area, adrag strip off the main straight, and the development of a motorsport-industry business park.

The new layout — a 3.5km course — was ready by March 2006, with the NZV8 Touring Cars series christening the new track. The circuit itself was originally homologated to FIA Grade 3 standards, and further investment enhanced the pit lane, media facilities and corporate boxes.

The track was upgraded to FIA Grade 2 status — making it eligible for international races — after a new sweeping Turn 9 was added. The A1GP Series quickly committed to holding a race at the new venue in 2007.

A1GP was the first international series to visit New Zealand since the 1990s, and it proved a big success. Current F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg won both the sprint and feature races for Team Germany.

There were further modifications to the Turns 14-15 chicane, which was tightened and squared off come 2008. A1GP returned, with Jonny Reid taking a famous home victory for Team New Zealand in the sprint, before Christian Vietoris helped Germany to victory in the feature.

Ireland’s Adam Carroll and Switzerland's Neel Jani won the sprint and feature respectively in 2009, with A1GP folding at the end of the year.

NZV8 Touring Cars and V8 Super Tourers were highlights after that, but the circuit has largely been bereft of major series — until 2024, when Supercars arrives.

After a number of offers, Tony Quinn finally bought the circuit in November 2021, with the change of ownership formally completed in December 2022.


The circuit

Taupō International Motorsport Park is New Zealand's only FIA Grade 2 rated motorsport circuit — one of only 61 circuits of for a total of 72 layouts in the world.

There are four alternative configurations, with Supercars to race on the 3.32km International Circuit configuration.

The venue features two separate pit areas, a three-story pit lane complex and even an NHRA standard 830m dragstrip.

It is a technical and tight circuit, and requires patience in the low-speed corners and commitment through the fast sections.

The circuit— which is anti-clockwise — is hard on tyres, given drivers spend much of the lap turning, and firing onto the long 830m back straight.

Qualifying will be critical, with drivers forced to work hard and set up overtakes through the infield section of the circuit. There is a hairpin at the far end of the track, which offers different options of lines.

Supercars and Taupō

Courtesy of the New Zealand Government via the Major Events Fund, a Supercars event will take place at Taupō from 2024 until at least 2026.

Supercars will continue to provide updates regarding the event date, ticketing information and further details over coming weeks.

Quinn, a racer in his own right, believes the circuit will offer “excellent” racing — and noted that the event also has the capacity to offer a tourism boom.

"It’s fitting that Supercars is coming back to NZ and hats off to everyone who has made it happen,” Quinn said.

"The kiwis are going to love the excitement of it all. While some people might be surprised that it’s at our Taupō Track, we think it’s a winning combination.

"The track will provide excellent racing, the consents are all in place, Taupō and their community have a proven track record in hosting world-class events, and we know that Supercars knows how to make the magic happen.

"Since purchasing the park at the end of 2021, we’ve been full steam ahead bringing it up to ’TQ' standard and it’s special for our organisation to be part of the team making Supercars a reality back in NZ, in one of the most stunning regions in the country.

"I’ve no doubt that the Aussies that make the trip over to NZ are going to be well impressed with the Taupō region and all it has to offer and will go home and spread the good word.”

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