Team owners back New Zealand double-header

19 Apr
’The more people we can have the follow Supercars – get to touch it and feel it – then that's a win for everyone'
  • Team bosses Matt Stone, Brenton Grove back NZ double-header

  • Thousands turn out to support Supercars in Taupō on Thursday

  • Saturday, Sunday grandstands and general admission sold out

Supercars team bosses Matt Stone and Brenton Grove have backed the concept of a New Zealand double-header, amid hype surrounding the return of the championship to the country.

The Repco Supercars Championship's return to New Zealand with the inaugural ITM Taupō Super400 has been met with great fanfare, with the Saturday and Sunday of the event sold out.

Grandstands were near full two hours before Supercars rolled out for Practice on Friday, which followed the successful full-field Track to Town on Thursday, which was likened to pre-Bathurst hype by Chaz Mostert.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s action, Kiwi-born Stone — the son and nephew of the successful Stone Brothers, Jim and Ross — backed the idea of a double-header in his native country.

“I probably come back to New Zealand at least once a year and having a race over here makes that more convenient,” said Stone, who owns the eponymous Matt Stone Racing.

Taupō welcomes Supercars in its thousands

“So, I absolutely love coming back here and I think most of the teams and the category and the sport in general all want more racing – I think we all agree on that – and a double-header in New Zealand just makes perfect sense.

“New Zealand's got a huge amount of race tracks for what is a relatively small country compared to Australia, so to be able to utilise more than one of them on a trip over here makes perfect sense.

“I think the logistics involved in bringing the category over here, it'd be great to do two rounds, back-to-back.”

Taupō replaced Pukekohe Park Raceway, which closed motorsport operations in 2023 and is currently being dismantled. Tony Quinn, who owns the Taupō venue, also owns nearby Hampton Downs, which was set to make its Supercars debut in 2020.

Stone said the support of the championship by Kiwi fans is enough to complement the Taupō round, which will be held until at least 2026.

Road to Taupō Episode 1: The Kiwi Rookies

“I think there is a huge support for Supercars in New Zealand so finding the right track, like Hampton Downs, to complement it, I'm sure that the fans would come out in droves and really appreciate it,” Stone added.

“So, I think it's a great concept for the future and I'd love to see it happen.”

Grove agreed, given the hype around his team with its two Kiwi-born drivers in Matt Payne and Richie Stanaway. Naming rights partner Penrite Oil is supporting the event, with the team adopting a special silver livery on both Mustangs.

“All of our partners love the round — obviously, Penrite were pretty keen to change the livery,” Grove said.

“There's so many good tracks and there's a lot of Supercar fans, and the country is still relatively quite spread out.

“We're not getting to the South Island, we're not showing the full capability of Supercars around New Zealand, so we would completely support going back-to-back because it just makes sense.

Road to Taupō Episode 2: The Kiwi Veterans

“The more people we can get through the gate and the more people we can have the follow Supercars – get to touch it and feel it – then that's a win for everyone.”

Stone and Grove’s comments come after Supercars chairman Barclay Nettlefold backed the double-header concept, saying on Kiwi radio station The Rock he was keen to create a “sub-championship” inside the championship.

“The government is excited, they have been fully supportive both commercially and financially,” he said.

“And that’s the beauty of it — it brings so much money and relevance to the region, and the region is just jumping.

“What’s the investment to get us here, we might spend $5 million to get us here, so on that basis, why don’t we do a back-to-back? Why don’t we work with government to din a suitable back-up weekend?

“These are discussions that we need too have, and creating a little bit of a sub-championship inside our championship."

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