The all-new A1 Grand Prix Series is to stage its first race at Brands Hatch in September, it was revealed today [Thursday].

Although the championship is primarily destined to run in southern hemisphere countries during the European winter, series president His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum appeared with Motorsport Vision proprietor Jonathan Palmer to reveal that it would make its debut in the UK.

The move is particularly apposite as Britain was one of the first countries to sign up to the series, and both the car and engine will be built in the UK, at Lola and Zytek respectively.

Palmer confirmed that the A1GP event would run at the historic Brands Hatch circuit on 18 September, and admitted that he hoped it would use the full grand prix layout, as opposed to the smaller Indy circuit that hosted the Champ Car World Series in 2003.

"We are extremely excited to be staging the very first round of the A1GP Series at Brands Hatch," Palmer told the audience at Autosport International, "There are still tremendous memories of the grands prix that were held at the circuit, even though the last of those was almost 20 years ago.

"We still have a world class motorcycle event on our calendar, and it is great news to now be able to add a world class car event as well.

"People still wax lyrical about the GP circuit, and we are working hard with the MSA to ensure that we can upgrade the track. There are considerable modifications required, but we are prepared to put the effort and resources into the project in order to stage the fastest race at Brands Hatch since the last grand prix."

Palmer, who raced F1 cars at Brands Hatch during his GP career, said that, while the A1GP Series was a good way to filling the empty European winter, he was hopeful that the British autumn would provide good weather for its debut. He also promised to provide a strong support programme for the weekend, in order to make the event one that people would remember.

"We want to launch A1GP with impact," he confirmed.

In addition to revealing a three-year deal with Brands Hatch, Sheikh Maktoum confirmed that, following an order being placed for 58 cars from Lola, the series was progressing well.

"We have now finalised half of the tracks we will be using, and have 13 teams confirmed," he said, "More than 80 per cent of the world's population will be represented in the series."

He also confirmed that the series would utilise a 'push to pass' system similar to that pioneered by Palmer's FPA series - and adopted by Champ Cars in 2004.

"We are delighted at the attention we are receiving," he commented, "It proves that the concept is right. We are not clashing with any other series, and drivers will be racing for pride - national pride.

"This will provide a level playing field, pitting nation against nation, rather than manufacturer against manufacturer and engineer against engineer. And where else would developing nations be able to compete against those established in motorsport?"

 

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