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F1 looking east

THE importance of the Far East in the future of F1 is becoming more and more pronounced with the news that there are plans to hold a Grand Prix in South Korea in 1998. The planned track is believed to be about two hours drive south of the capital Seoul and is part of a theme park which is currently under construction. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has already visited the site and agreed on the basic track layout. The deal is not yet signed, but the Koreans are believed to be in partnership with a British firm called Motor Racing Services, run by Jacky de Havas. Ecclestone is due to return to Korea this year to see how progress is going on construction and to sign the deal.

Although plans for a race in Malaysia have gone rather quiet in recent months with the idea to build a track on the holiday island of Langkawi being superseded by a project to construct a racing track as part of a government new town currently going up close to Kuala Lumpur. The appearance of the King of Malaysia at the San Marino GP last weekend can only add to the speculation.

The planned race in Indonesia is more likely to go ahead than ever before following the death last week of Indonesian president General Raden Suharto's wife Tien. This is certain to strengthen the political position of Suharto's daughter Tutut, who is a senior official in the ruling Golkar party and a leading businesswomen in Indonesia. One of her companies built the Sentul racing circuit, which is partly owned by her brother Tommy Suharto, who is also chairman of the Indonesian national sporting authority - which is known as Ikatan Motor Indonesia.

There remains a strong possibility of a race at Zhuhai in China in 1998 if the Chinese can find the money necessary to keep the F1 teams happy.

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