Taupo became a hub of motorsport excitement from the 19th to the 21st of January, hosting the anticipated Historic GP as part of the Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship.
The event, marking the second of seven in the 2024 season, offered a unique blend of historic and modern racing, attracting enthusiasts and international competitors to New Zealand.
2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship
Leading the modern aspect of the event was the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship (CTFROC), featuring the latest Tatuus FT-60 cars powered by Toyota 8AR-FTS engines.
The 19-car field included notable drivers like Patrick Woods-Toth, the reigning Formula 4 United States Champion, and New Zealand's own Kaleb Ngatoa, a previous season race winner.
Poland's Roman Bilinski, representing M2 Competition, emerged as the star. He secured his second victory of the weekend in a 23-lap race, leading him to claim the prestigious Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy and an early lead in the series.
A nostalgic journey with 140 historic entries
In stark contrast, the event boasted an impressive 140 historic entries, stretching the venue's capacity. Highlighting the historic segment was the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series.
With 14 cars of original specification, this series reminisced the 1970s, a time when these machines matched Formula One in performance. Legendary drivers Graeme Lawrence and Kenny Smith graced the podium, honouring the event's heritage.
Holden Celebration: a tribute to a motoring icon
A special feature of this year's Historic GP was the celebration of Holden, showcasing legendary cars and drivers.
Motorsport icons like Greg Murphy, Craig Lowndes, Jack Perkins, and Steven Richards reunited with winning Holden models, from the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour Monaro to the 2023 Bathurst winning Gen3 V8 Supercar. The event also included a unique Holden ‘Allcomers’ race, alongside categories like Historic Touring Cars NZ and Formula Open NZ.
Bryan Hartley's triumphant return to racing
Adding to the event's allure, Bryan Hartley, father of Brendon and Nelson Hartley, made a noteworthy comeback to racing after a hiatus since 1995. Driving a Swift DB4 in the Formula Open NZ category, Hartley tackled Taupo's circuit, a track he had never raced on, unlike his sons.
More than racing
The event wasn't limited to racing alone. It included a Holden car parade and a display by the RNZAF Black Falcon aerobatic team. 'Dinner at the Lake' on Thursday evening set the stage for the weekend, with selected cars exhibited at Northcroft Reserve, Lake Terrace.
The on-track action kicked off on Friday, leading up to the climax of the 18-lap CTFROC open-wheel race on Saturday and the 23-lap CTFROC race on Sunday, alongside the F5000 Historic GP race.
The successful completion of the Taupo Super Sprint set the stage for the next events in the series, including the Skope Classic in Christchurch and the trans-Tasman leg at the Phillip Island Classic.
This blend of historic and contemporary racing at Taupo offered a thrilling experience for fans and participants alike, celebrating the rich and diverse history of motorsport.