The Dutch fans who have travelled the globe in loyal support of Jos Verstappen in this season's inaugural A1 Grand Prix competition have been rewarded with a race on home soil next year, with Zandvoort being awarded the opening round of the 2006-07 campaign.

Although Formula One has not visited the seaside circuit for 21 years, Zandvoort has become increasingly popular as a venue for international events since being revamped, and will host potentially its biggest series since waving goodbye to the Dutch Grand Prix when A1GP arrives to begin its second campaign on the weekend of 1 October.

Series chairman Sheikh Maktoum confirmed the deal at the final round of 2005-06 at Shanghai's state-of-the-art circuit, and pointed to the Dutch fans as fuelling his desire to take the championship to Holland.

"The enthusiasm of the Dutch fans is the main reason to come to Zandvoort," he insisted, "We have had the pleasure of seeing them at almost every race this year and they encapsulate the patriotic spirit of A1 Grand Prix. They are not easily overlooked in their bright orange outfits and, at one race, I even saw two of them with huge inflatable orange clogs for hats!"

The Zandvoort event is already being marketed in Holland, with fans expected to begin snapping up tickets when they go on sale on Monday.

"It is very special that A1 Grand Prix will come to Zandvoort," circuit director Hans Ernst admitted, "We expect it to attract huge crowds, and it will also be a big boost for the Zandvoort economy in a period where the regular tourist season has ended. The race will attract millions of television viewers from all over the world and it is excellent promotion for the track, for Zandvoort and the Netherlands."

Team Netherlands seat holder Jan Lammers, who was born in Zandvoort and began his racing career at the circuit under the guidance of the late Rob Slotemaker, also welcomed the decision to stage a round of the series' second championship in his homeland.

"Unlike all other motor sports, A1 Grand Prix is not solely about the individual driver, but all about team effort and the honour of representing your country," he explained, "It's also a real family event and gives all the fans, young and old, the best in entertainment and value for money."

Further details of A1 Grand Prix's 2006-07 season will be made over the coming weeks.

 

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