Stephane Ratel has said he hopes that a race in the Middle East will feature on the 2009 FIA GT Championship calendar, even though plans for an event in March have been shelved.

Speaking at the end of season awards for the various series' run by his SRO Group, Ratel revealed that an agreement had been in place for the new season to start with an event in the Middle East in March.

However, at the request of the teams, that race date was put back as the competitors seek to finalise budgets for the 2009 campaign, with Ratel hopeful of extending the current eight round calendar to include a ninth date.

"We had an agreement for an overseas round in the Middle East on March 15th," Ratel said. "However, due to the current economic climate, the teams requested that this should be moved to a later date, as March is too early for them to finalise their budgets for the 2009 season.

"We are currently working on finding a suitable date or an alternative solution."

The 2009 season is now due to start at Silverstone in May, with seven of the eight scheduled rounds taking place on European soil.

The only current exception is a race in Argentina in November as the San Luis circuit which make its debut on the calendar as the 2008 season finale.

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