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South Africa still bidding for 1998 race

AS we reported in May the Automobile Association of South Africa in Johannesburg is aiming to run a Grand Prix at Kyalami next season. Representatives of the AASA met F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone recently and he has since confirmed that there is a possibility that Grand Prix racing could go back to South Africa.

Ecclestone has also confirmed that none of the rumored races in the Far East will happen next year as organizers in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Korea are simply not ready to host Grands Prix events. The situation will not have been helped by dramatic drops in the value of the Asian currencies in the last few weeks. The Malaysian ringgit last week fell to its weakest level since 1973 and the Indonesian rupiah has lost 20% of its value against the dollar this year. The instability has been caused by attacks from currency speculators who forced Thailand to devalue the baht in July.

Although there has been a great deal of talk about new venues in South Africa, it is likely that any race would take place at Kyalami which is owned by the AASA and has all the necessary infrastructure in place. It has already hosted two Grands Prix in the 1990s and the only problem since then has been a lack of money. With a lot of foreign companies now keen to invest in South Africa, money appears to have been found to put the South African race back on the map.

There is not expected to be an official announcement about the 1998 calendar until the FIA World Motor Sport Council meets in Paris in October.

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