With a new format and a new naming rights sponsor the return of the Australian GT Championship to Hampton Downs looks set to be one of the big events of this year’s motorsport calendar.
Laser Plumbing & Electrical has been confirmed as the naming rights sponsor for the Hampton Downs 500 on October 28-29.
The event doubles as the penultimate round of the Australian Endurance Championship and will feature some of the finest GT production cars in the world including Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Nissan, McLaren and Mercedes.
Last year’s Hampton Downs 101 marked the first time the Australian GTs raced at the Waikato track and the event proved to be a big hit with teams, drivers and fans alike.
Scott Carr, the General Manager of the Laser Group in New Zealand says they were impressed with last year’s event and with the facilities at Hampton Downs. In Australia, the Laser Group has sponsored four times Bathurst winner Steven Richards in his BMW GT for the last few years but this is their first time sponsoring a motorsport event in New Zealand.
“There were a lot of sports we considered but this opportunity was very well crafted by the team at Hampton Downs,” says Carr. “We jumped at the chance to be associated with such an exciting event.”
“For us it’s a different channel to market and a great way to get our brand out there. We do a lot of radio advertising and this gives us a different dimension including TV exposure in New Zealand and Australia. It’s something new for us and we’re looking forward to a great weekend of racing.”
Tony Quinn, the owner of Hampton Downs and the Australian GT Championship, said the commitment from the Laser Group is a good reflection on the event.
“It shows that we delivered last year and we’re planning an even bigger and better event this year,” says Quinn. “They’ve committed to us so now we have to deliver and give them value for money.”
The naming rights deal coincides with a new format for the Hampton Downs event. Last year the cars raced over 101 laps. This year an extra 20 laps have been added to create a five hundred kilometre race, the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500.
“That may not sound a lot but it means there will be a third pit stop and two driver changes which will mean a change in strategy for the teams,” explains Quinn. “It will also have implications for tyres and fuel. We’re also getting rid of the compulsory timed pit stops which were used to handicap the faster drivers which means it will be a true endurance test.”
The Hampton Downs 500 will be the first leg of the New Zealand 1001. The second leg will be the Highlands 501 at Highlands Motorsport Park from November 11-12 which also doubles as the final round of the Australian Endurance Championship.
“The Bathurst 1000 has always been a special race for me and I liked the idea of going one better, hence the New Zealand 1001,” explains Quinn.