Pukekohe track to get $6.6m upgrade for V8s

Pukekohe's notorious back straight has had some of its speed removed with the addition of three turns as part of a major upgrade for the return of the V8 Supercars next year.

Work will begin next month in a $6.6m overhaul for the controversial shift of the glamour 400km race from Hamilton to Pukekohe on April 12-14.

Texas and Dubai will also host races outside of Australia on the 2013 calendar confirmed yesterday for a series that sees Nissan and Mercedes join Holden and Ford.

Pukekohe and Hamilton have shared the race since it came across the Tasman in 2001.

Auckland City fought hard to return the race north and has won a five-year deal, backed by public money. The three-way funding sees Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and V8 Supercars each contributing $2.2 million to the redevelopment.

The Kiwi shift from the street circuit to the track has required a huge overhaul at Pukekohe with some within the sport questioning the wisdom with modern alternatives recently built just down the motorway at Hampton Downs and in Taupo.

The new turns in the back straight have been brought in to avoid the cars hurtling into the hairpin. A right-left combination and a gentle right introduced before the hairpin lengthen the track from 2.84km to 2.91km.

Other changes include new race control and timing buildings, resurfacing of the track, a new pedestrian bridge to the in-field viewing area and an extension of the pits area to provide 32 new pit garages. Some of Hamilton's infrastructure will be used.

There are also significant safety improvements, including impact-absorbing concrete barriers to lift the Pukekohe circuit to Grade 2 FIA specifications.

ATEED will invest about $2.1m per year, including a $1m annual sponsorship fee.