The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has gained another new venue ahead of its delayed fourth season, with the Chinese round now set to be held at the Chengdu International Circuit in the south-west of the country.
The race, which will be the second on the revised 2008-09 schedule, replaces previous events at Shanghai and Zhuhai and takes A1GP to another new area of the country it has visited most in its short history. It is the fourth track to be used by the series, including the ill-fated
“Our welcome in China has always been extremely warm and it is very gratifying that we have been invited to race at our fourth different track in this amazing country by the Chinese government," series chairman Tony Teixeira commented, "The Chinese fans are some of the most passionate, as can be seen by their support for the series and A1 Team China. Also, as we have seen with the recent Olympics, China knows how to put on great events.”
Instead of just turning up and entertaining, however, A1GP's presence at Chengdu will carry a secondary benefit, as the series has pledged proceeds from the event to the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Fund. The region was devastated by the disaster in May this year, and is currently trying to rebuild after the 7.8-magnitude 'quake left around 70,000 people dead, 18,000 missing and at least ten million people homeless.
“It is a great honour to have A1GP back in China, especially with the new A1GP powered by Ferrari cars," Chinese team 'seat holder' Liu Yu admitted, "The severity of the earthquake in Sichuan Province on 12 May this year was a shock to everyone worldwide, and both A1GP and A1 Team China will take this opportunity to show support for the local people who have suffered so badly. I am sure the fans in Chengdu will be able to show they are getting on with their lives and will give A1GP a warm welcome.”
Triple Olympic gold medallist and world record breaker Usain Bolt took time out of his recent celebrations to visit the region, and A1GP will do its bit for those affected over the weekend of 7-9 November.
The date is a departure from the original schedule published by A1GP some weeks ago, but the change has been deemed necessary in order to catch the best possible conditions for the race. Round three - now round two following the postponement of the Mugello opener - was originally scheduled for the 12-14 December, and has had a knock-on effect on the planned Indonesian race, which now moves to February.
“Making such changes needs a lot of co-operation, and we would especially like to thank the Indonesian minister of youth and sport affairs, Dr Adhyaksa Dault, and IMI, the National Motorsports Federation, for consenting to this date change,” Teixeira added, discussing the new event scheduled for Jakarta.
A second event in CHina remains a possibility, with one date still to be filled on the calendar, but there is currently no race in Australia or America, while Mugello may be reinserted later in the year.