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Turkish delight?

20 October 2005

Turkey is making the International headlines at the moment. Not just because of the first MotoGP event to be staged in the country on Sunday, but because of their proposed entry into the European Union.

Their entry into the world of International Motorsport has gone a lot smoother than their entry into the EU, with both Formula One and MotoGP making their debuts this year in a country with no great tradition in World Championship racing.

Turkey is fast becoming an international sporting venue with its very location a bridge between the European and Asian cultures. This year they have already staged the Champions League Football final in a new stadium on the outskirts of Istanbul.

In August they hosted the first ever Turkish Formula One Grand Prix (pictured) at the brand new Otodrom circuit which is situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, 60 kilometres south east of the centre of Istanbul.

They spent over 80 million euros to complete the facility just in time for the Formula One debut. The 5.378kms circuit was designed by Herman Tilke who has been responsible for the design of the new circuits of Sepang in Malaysia and Shanghai in China.

The first thing to strike you watching the Formula One race on the television was just how undulating the circuit was, making a welcome change from some of the flat featureless circuits that are in vogue at the moment.

The track runs in anti-clockwise direction and features six rights and seven left turns. As always it's nice and wide and should provide plenty of overtaking opportunities to excite the new fans of the sport.

Nobody has tested at the circuit so it really will be a trip into the unknown for the riders and engineers, while the two major MotoGP tyre manufacturers Michelin and Bridgestone may turn to their F1 colleagues for any tips.

Once again looking at television and the lay out of the circuit, the fast multi-apex left hander turn 11, would seem to be the place top watch while the very sharp turn one at the end of the start and finish straight could certainly cause some fun and games.

The Formula One race ran smoothly with the only complaints about traffic jams in and out of the circuit and a good few team personnel going down with tummy bugs after sampling the local cuisine.

Turkey is a country located on two continents, Europe and Asia. Just three per cent is in Europe with 97 per cent in Asia. The population is approaching 70 million with Istanbul easily it's largest city with over ten million inhabitants. The Capital city of Ankara has a population of four million. Ninety-nine per cent of the population are Muslims.

Football in the main sport and Turkish fans are known for their passionate support. Turkish lira is the official currency of a country that hopes one day to be switching to the euros and which is steeped in history and tradition.

So another new adventure for MotoGP into a country that is hoping to bridge that Europe/Asia divide by finally gaining full membership into the European Union. The arrival of yet another international sporting event to their shores will surely help their cause.

It promises to be yet another interesting weekend...


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