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Historic first as Cromwell hosts first ever New Zealand Grand Prix and V8 challenge

The 68th New Zealand Grand Prix will be contested alongside the trans-Tasman V8 decider this weekend at Cromwell’s Highlands International Motorsport Park 16-18 February 2024.

A first for the region, the scenic town of Cromwell welcomes a large international contingent contesting the sixth round of the Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship series.

Headlined by future F1 hopefuls in the premier wings-and-slicks Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship (CTFROC) series, Cromwell will get a first-hand experience of 16 thundering V8s contesting the trans-Tasman TA2 Muscle Car Challenge.

While the two-round event is currently led by Australia’s Nathan Herne, 18-year-old Kiwi youngster Ben Stewart tilted the balance to make this weekend’s decider a nail-biter. The overall winner receives the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy alongside the Howe Engineering Services Perpetual Trophy.

Of the 17 lining up for Sunday’s New Zealand Grand Prix in the Toyota category it is also the fifth and championship deciding round. Led by Poland’s Roman Bilinski, Kiwi Liam Sceats sits in second, 56 points adrift with three races left to run including Sunday’s Grand Prix.

First contested in 1950, the New Zealand Grand Prix has been held at a variety of locations and has some of the world’s greats etched into its roll of honour: Sir Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart, Chris Amon, Keke Rosberg, Ken Smith, Liam Lawson, Shane van Gisbergen and most recently Netherlands Laurens van Hoepen.

The weekend’s line-up also includes the 21-strong Toyota 86 Championship series. Hawke’s Bay youngster Tom Bewley re-took the championship lead at last weekend’s round held at Christchurch and returns to Highlands with a slender 13 point advantage.

Adding to the premier line-up are another 18 cars in the Summerset GT New Zealand Championship. Fresh from competition at Christchurch last weekend serves Rick Armstrong (Porsche 992) and Brock Gilchrist (McLaren 570s) up as favourites in their respective classes. Each has heated competition with the Open competitors being a mix of Mercedes AMG vs Porsche for the top step of the podium.

It’s also a double-header for the Nexen Tyres Mazda Racing Series with a grid of 30 mainly RX8s adding to the atmosphere.

Appearances will also be made of the Shane van Gisbergen/Richie Stanaway 2023 Bathurst winning Camaro, alongside Tony Quinn’s Aston Martin Vulcan and the 2006 Audi Sport DTM car at the hands of Greg Murphy.

Each category has practice sessions on the Friday. Qualifying and racing starts on Saturday, continuing through to the Sunday afternoon – with the weekend concluding New Zealand Grand Prix race from 4:48pm

The action will be televised live both days on Sky Sport (New Zealand), Fox Sports and Kayo (Australia), Pasifika TV and internationally via motorsports.tv

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