SVG keen for Pukekohe Supercars to stay

·2-min read

Shell V-Power Racing duo Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison are planning a spoilsport effort in New Zealand for the final Supercars races at Pukekohe Park.

The sport will bid farewell to the quirky and much-loved circuit after the weekend, with track management opting to develop the site for thoroughbred racing and stabling.

The multi-purpose track south of Auckland has a long motorsport history dating back to 1962 and first hosted the Supercars series in 1996.

The last meet has brought bumper crowds to the 2.9km circuit, where De Pasquale and Davison topped the timing charts in Friday practice.

The Fore pair edged out Auckland-raised duo Andrew Heimgartner and Shane Van Gisbergen, who were third and fourth, with Davison surprised at the reception.

"I thought I was going to be only hated here," he said.

"Obviously a lot of people, a lot of Ford fans still want us to get up on SVG. That's awesome."

It's been five years since an Australian won at Pukekohe, with Scott McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen sharing race wins in 2018 and 2019 before two years of COVID-19 postponements.

Little wonder Van Gisbergen is eager to keep racing at the venue.

"The track looks amazing. I don't know why they're shutting it. The horse track looks junk," he said, "What a great place to race cars."

Heimgartner confessed to a bit of emotion for the historic occasion.

"I grew up just sitting out there on the grandstand watching people driving by like Greg Murphy, (Mark) Skaife," he said.

"This is where I learned to drive manual for the first time and I got my first hot lap with my dad and his Commodore when when I was very young.

"This is where I fell in love with Supercars and got the dream of being in Supercars and to come full circle, I'd love to be on the other side of the fence."

Drivers will race for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy - named after the Kiwi driver who died of cancer aged 35 - which is awarded to the highest point-scorer across the meet.

Teams have also changed up their liveries to say goodbye to Pukekohe Park, with little amendments and silver ferns on different cars in tribute to the move.

Friday's practice was a tight session, with the top 17 cars charting times within one second in their 30-minute hit-out.

Cam Waters, one of just three - including Davison and De Pasquale - in with a realistic shot of snatching the title off Van Gisbergen, was also up there in fifth.

In a dominant season, Van Gisbergen has seven race wins in the last eight, and missed just podium in the last four months of racing.

With a 500-point lead to Waters, the Triple Eight driver could defend his title at Bathurst next month.