The final design circuit was completed by Clive Bowen when he worked for Kiwi motorsport legend, Dick Bennetts, at West Surrey Racing (WSR) in 2006. Clive’s design philosophy, working from the original layout defined by the previous owners, was to incorporate the views of drivers, teams and the FIA into a sequence of corners and straights that should provide good racing, good spectator viewing and safe use for drivers of all abilities.
The layout is simple, without undue ‘frills’, but because of the contour of the land it will be a challenging and rewarding track to drive. Unlike other tracks in New Zealand, this circuit has plenty of rise and fall. Added to this are two long straights and at least four good passing opportunities around the full circuit. The 3.8 km International circuit has 10 corners, six right hand and four left hand. The main straight is 1000 metres long, with a kink in the middle and a 11 metre rise and fall. The back straight is flat with a length of 850 metres and the circuit travels in a clockwise direction.
CORNER BY CORNER WITH GREG MURPHY
“Before the 1.2 kilometre extension to the track at Hampton Downs, the old National circuit was a fantastic racetrack that delivered a range of different corner speeds and some great undulations which is very unique to New Zealand race track’s. The new Club extension has changed the circuit dramatically and it’s a track that will suit good drivers. It’s a comprehensive test and it’s not an easy track to figure out. To get a good flow and set a fast lap time you need to have your wits about you. There are a few places where you have to push the envelope and take some risks which makes it very challenging but when you get it all strung together perfectly will be very rewarding.
Turn 1 at Hampton Downs an exciting way to start a lap. It’s a very unique corner with some serious difficulty involved. It looks wide and fast but because it drops away you tend to brake a little earlier than you would do if it was flat. The way you come off the brake is critical to carrying your speed through the corner. I reckon it’s one of the most demanding corners in New Zealand, but it’s incredibly rewarding when you get it right.
2. Fosters Hairpin
After you exit Pirelli you’ve got the huge 800m back straight past the current Turn 2 which would lead you back onto the National circuit. The speed you carry out of Pirelli is incredibly important to what happens down the straight. With the GT3 cars expected to hit in excess of 275kph at the end of the straight it means that if you go a bit wide on the exit of Pirelli, it creates a real passing opportunity heading into the Fosters Hairpin. This is a tight right-hand hairpin that most drivers will take in second gear.
3. Kev’s Carousel
There’ll be a few different lines through this corner and it’s not as standard as it might first appear. With a good amount of camber through the corner, it will allow a driver to carry a reasonable amount of speed through it and make use of the exit as it opens up.
4 & 5. Swampy Curves
This section will be one of the big talking points. It looks like a fairly standard sweeper but the entry is tighter than it looks and straight away it begins to open up. Then just when you think you can go hard on the gas it kinks ever so slightly into a tight nark which is going to catch a few people out. This is a corner that will separate the men from the boys.
6 & 7. Double Bastard Corner
This is a very fast left hander and it’s going to take a little while for drivers to work out the line because the corner goes on for a while. It straightens through the middle of the turn before it tightens again and re-joins the old circuit. There’s speed and time to be gained through this corner but if you get it wrong it’s going to be messy.
8. Hirepool Hairpin
Next up you’ve got the short run down to the right hand Hirepool hairpin which could present more passing opportunities depending on how drivers get through The Double Bastard.
9. Porsche Dipper
Coming out of the Hirepool Hairpin you’ve got the climb up to the top of Porsche Dipper and the Pits, then cresting and dropping down into the left hand Porsche Dipper. This is a fantastic corner. The turning point is quite late and you’re almost past the corner before you bring the car around. Exit speed out of there is crucial and you need to get on the throttle nice and early.
10. Turn 10 Sweeper
Carrying speed into The Sweeper is very important. You need to run in quite deep and use the width on the exit to get on the throttle early for the run up the Front Straight. Getting your exit from the last corner right is the key to a quick lap around Hampton Downs.