Loss of Toyota series a blow

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014

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Timaru International Motor Raceway will not host a round of the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) next season.

As a result, the summer motorsport calendar is in a state of flux until a plan B can be sorted.

The TRS, which has boasted a large international field of emerging drivers, has chosen to return to Christchurch's Ruapuna Raceway which was not on the calendar last season.

South Canterbury Car Club president Kevin Pateman said the outcome was "devastating".

"We've been on notice for a few years that there are four circuits in the South island and only two are going to host rounds and I think we've done a good job in holding it as long as we have."

The loss of the January meeting has thrown Timaru's summer motorsport calendar into chaos with no major meets confirmed,

Pateman said with the TRS likely to race faster, bigger cars this season, he had been given some unofficial word that further safety upgrades would be needed for the series to return.

"We've been trying to pump money into keeping the track upgraded over the past five years . . . We are conscious that the money we pour in is coming from the local community so we decided to have a couple of light years last year and this year.

"Obviously we'll need to ramp that up.

"It is disappointing that we have missed out but it gives us the chance to refocus and in the winter try to address some of those issues that Toyota have."

The TRS will continue to race at Invercargill's Teretonga Raceway but Cromwell's Highlands Motorsport Park has also missed out as the competition has two South Island and three North Island round in 2015.

Toyota New Zealand assistant general manager marketing, Andrew Davis, said it was simply a case of there being more circuits than rounds available

The class had been a major focus of the annual summer race meeting in Timaru in recent years and with the split of the New Zealand V8 scene into two opposing categories yet to be resolved, the fate of the annual January meeting is still unknown.

Pateman said shifting the New Zealand Super Truck meeting in March to the last weekend of January was an option.

He said they were negotiating with several categories to provide a big weekend of racing in March.

The split between New Zealand V8s and SuperTourers causes its own headaches with Timaru initially pencilled in to host a round of the more highly-fancied SuperTourers round in early March.

However, Pateman said an ultimatum was with Motorsport New Zealand from all track owners in the country telling them no V8 meeting will be held until the split is resolved.

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Pateman said he was committed to bringing the TRS back to Timaru but admitted if they missed out on it again in 2016, it would be hard to compete with younger Ruapuna, Teretonga and Highlands tracks.

- The Timaru Herald

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