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No extra race to replace China, says IndyCar

The IZOD IndyCar Series will not be replacing the abandoned China street race and will instead remain at 15 races for the 2012 season, organisers have announced.
The IZOD IndyCar Series has given up on plans to find a replacement race following the decision to cancel the Indy Qingdao 600 event in China originally planned for August 19, and has instead announced that the season finale race will now be an extended 500 mile event at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana.

"After carefully considering all possible options for an additional race, we felt it was in our best interest to keep our schedule at its current 15-event lineup," said IndyCar's CEO Randy Bernard.

The street course event in the port city of Qingdao was called off two weeks ago following a change in local government, which saw the new mayor decide that he did not want to event to coincide with the city's International Beer Festival after all. No alternative replacement dates could be agreed between the venue, the promoters and the IndyCar series.

Since then, series CEO Randy Bernard has been urgently seeking a replacement event to fill the gap left by the cancellation. It's thought that many of the key contracts for the series - such as deals with TV networks and the series' entitlement sponsor IZOD - had stipulated a minimum of at least 16 events.

However the late cancellation made it very difficult to work around already scheduled events. One possibility - an outing at Laguna Seca - would have meant four IndyCar events this season in the already saturated Californian market.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage had also been quick to rule out a rapid return to the 1.5-mile oval for a second event in 2012 when the suggestion was made: "We couldn't justify dividing resources between the two events to make it happen and it would be an injustice to both due to the scheduling," said Gossage, after the possibility arose.

There was too little time to organise any temporary street course events, while the lack of lead-in time for promotion and ticket sales also made it difficult to find a suitable venue. Even the series' spiritual home, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was unwilling to host a second round in 2012, even at the suggestion of preserving the uniqueness of IndyCar's tentpole event - the Indianapolis 500 - by switching to the venue's road course configuration used by MotoGP, Grand-AM and previously by F1.

In the end the fan favourite to host an extra event was Road America at Elkhart Lake, which this weekend hosted Grand-AM and NASCAR Nationwide races - including a maiden series victory for Nelson Piquet Jr. But the American Le Mans Series August schedule at Road America and disagreements over the fees for holding the event at such short notice meant that even this possibility seemed to fade in the last few days.

"It's a long shot. I don't know what's going to happen," Road America President George Bruggenthies had said of his most recent discussions with Bernard leading up to this weekend. "It's up to him; he's got other options."




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