Plans for Narain Karthikeyan to demonstrate an F1 car on the streets of Kerala have been aborted just days before the event after objections from a local social activist.
The run, which could have boosted demand for tickets for October's Indian Grand Prix, was due to have taken place on Tuesday [28 August] on the road from Kowdiar Palace to Fine Arts College, but claims that the run would exceed the 40km/h speed limit were upheld by the local court in deference to the harvest festival Onam.
An official statement from the Kerala tourism department claimed that the demonstration had been dropped because of 'logistical' problems, citing that 'on the eve of Onam, it would be a busy day for shoppers', despite the local government having explored the possibility of Karthikeyan using cars from other categories.
Bizarrely, tourism minister AP Anil Kumar has since said that the tourism department would now try to rearrange the event for the end of the year, to coincide with the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival, which is held between 1 December and 15 February.
Ironically, Kumar has also said that, if he could be convinced that building an F1-spec circuit in the region would boost tourism, he would consider proposing the project to local government officials. Karthikeyan apparently made the suggestion at the time his demo run was originally announced back in April.
"We are always positive in our outlook," Kumar told IBN
at the time, "We have no issues in considering new proposals, which will take Kerala tourism to greater heights. For this, we have to think out of the box. We will neither say no nor yes straightaway. All aspects will be looked into. Only then will we comment."
The Kerala demonstration run might have helped boost ticket sales for the second ever Indian Grand Prix, after organisers revealed that just 21,000 had been snapped up with under two months to go to the event. According to official figures, ten per cent of those sales have gone to F1 fans in Europe, but a bigger push - and more outlets - will come online in the coming weeks, with the Buddh International Circuit
able to hold some 95,000 spectators.