Nulon Racing’s Scott Pye and IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom are looking to farewell Pukekohe Park Raceway on a high at this weekend’s Auckland SuperSprint, the final Supercars event to be held at New Zealand’s famed circuit.
Pye heads to Pukekohe off the back of his best point-scoring event of the season last time out at Sandown, with finishes of seventh, fifth and seventh in the three races. Pye has found success at Pukekohe in the past with two podiums in 2015 and 2016.
“I’ve been on the podium a couple of times there, it’s a cool podium which is elevated and you see all the crew in front like Bathurst,” said Pye.
“I almost got pole there in ’16 and it was a cool feeling starting on the front row and leading into Turn 1. It’s one of those tracks where there are so many moments that you remember as it’s so fast with so many good battles, but the podiums are always a good memory.”
Pye rated the high-risk, old-school nature of the circuit as a favourite amongst the Supercars drivers and predicts this year’s event could be the biggest yet at Pukekohe for the final Supercars race there.
“It’s a shame this will be the last time we will get to race at Pukekohe as it’s one of my favourite circuits. It’s old school, it’s high risk. I’m sure the fans will get around the last event and I’m sure it’s going to be bigger than ever.
“Sandown was a great event for us, we rebounded and hopefully that’s the end of our bad luck and we can roll into the remainder of the year with some amazing events coming up and get some good results.
“It was nice to get some strong results under our belt at Sandown and have some consistency across the weekend, the reliability was great and we go to Pukekohe full of confidence and hopefully we get one more good round under our belt and you roll into Bathurst with fantastic momentum and full of optimism heading to the big race.”
Pukekohe Park has been a happy hunting ground for Winterbottom in the past, with three wins, six podiums, one pole position and 13 top five finishes from his 33 races contested there.
“I look forward to farewelling Pukekohe, it’s sad when you see these good tracks go. I’m not a Kiwi but I love going there and it’s one of my favourite tracks, with the atmosphere of the fans on the hill, the vibe is amazing and the circuit itself is one of the great tracks and it’s been one I’ve got to race on a lot and had great success at,” said Winterbottom
Winterbottom likewise rated the circuit as one of his favourite on the calendar and believes the team is in good shape heading to Pukekohe after a strong performance at Sandown.
“I think Team 18 is really hitting their stride which is great. Pukekohe out of all the tracks we go to I feel really confident at. It’s one I go to thinking ‘I’m going there for a trophy’, so we’ll see if we are good enough this time around.
“As a team we have done a lot of work. The cars survived Sandown really well, they were fast, we were close to a podium there, so we have good momentum. We’re in good shape and the results will tell the story of how we perform.”
Pukekohe Park is one of the last ‘old-school’ circuits on the Supercars calendar and one of the fastest on the schedule for average speed, approaching 170 kilometres per hour.
The 2.91km circuit rewards bravery and commitment from the drivers at the highest level and favours a car that handles the severe bumps through high-speed sections at Turn 1 and the final sector at Turns 10 and 11.
The Auckland SuperSprint features a three-day format, with drivers battling to win the 8th annual Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.
Cars first hit the track for a sole practice session on Friday at 2:40pm local time (NZDT).
All three races will be staged over 41 laps on the Dunlop Hard Tyre, with Race 27 of the championship held on Saturday, and Races 28 and 29 held on Sunday afternoon.
The three-part knockout qualifying format returns for Saturday, with each part lasting 10 minutes each. Two back-to-back all-in 10-minute sessions will set the grid for Races 28 and 29 respectively.
All the action can be viewed live on Fox Sports and Kayo, with post-race highlights shown on free-to-air channel 7.
ITM Auckland SuperSprint, Pukekohe Park Raceway
9-11 September 2022, Local time: NZDT
2:40pm – Practice 1 (30 mins) NZDT
TV Times: Fox, 12:00pm – 1:25pm AEST
11:30am – Practice 2 (30 mins) NZDT
2:00pm – Qualifying (R27), Pt 1 (10 mins) NZDT
2:15pm – Qualifying (R27), Pt 2 (10 mins) NZDT
2:30pm – Qualifying (R27), Pt 2 (10 mins) NZDT
4:40pm – Race 27 (41 laps) NZDT
TV Times: Fox, 8:00am – 4:00pm AEST
7, 12:45am Sunday AEST
10:45am – Qualifying (R28) (10 mins) NZDT
11:05am – Qualifying (R29) (10 mins) NZDT
12:55pm – Race 28 (41 laps) NZDT
4:10pm – Race 29 (41 laps) NZDT
TV Times: Fox: 7:45am – 4:00pm AEST
7, 1:45am Monday AEST