Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende may have confirmed that the A1GP 'World Cup of Motorsport' would race in the Netherlands for the fourth time next season, but revealed that the series would be breaking new territory when it replaces Zandvoort with Assen.
The race, which moves to the end of the schedule in season five - with a 14-16 May 2010 date pencilled in - will take A1GP to a track famous for enormous motorcycle crowds, but is expected to attract the fans that packed out Zandvoort through the three races previously held there. The seaside venue was teeming with orange-clad fans when it played host to the A1GP season-opener in 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09, having previously hosted the likes of F1, DTM and F3. Assen made a rare foray into international four-wheel motorsport with the visit of Champ Car in 2007.
“I almost feel the series colour should be orange," A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira joked, "We have had an enormous fan following since our very first event, and no one will forget the dedication of the fans at our very wet opening round for the 2008/09 season. Assen is a track with a lot of history - it has hosted a variety of very successful races for both two and four wheels and this will be an exciting new adventure for us.”
Assen has a long tradition, with racing in the area since 1925, when the bikes raced on country roads. A circuit was built in 1955 and was then redesigned in 2006, taking its layout to 4.555km and with the capacity to host 100,000 spectators. Champ Car ace Sebastien Bourdais remains the lap record holder with a time of 1min 18.756secs.
“It is wonderful news that A1GP has signed a multi-year deal to race at the TT Circuit Assen," PM Balkenende commented, "It's a great opportunity to build on this year after year because of the multi-year deal. It's an enormous boost for this region of Holland so is very important and will provide real opportunities for the future.”