DECEMBER 15, 1997
Good news for China and South Africa
THE problems of the French, Portuguese, Belgian and Jerez races are good news for the Chinese and the South Africans bids for Grands Prix which have been listed as reserve races for the 1998 World Championship. At least one of the two will probably happen with an October date being possible for China - so it could be "twinned" with the Japanese Grand Prix. This would be very popular with the F1 circus as it would mean that most of the troops would be able to get a few days off in the Far East between races as used to happen between the Japanese and Australian GPs.
The Automobile Association of South Africa has been quietly working towards getting a race in recent months and the bid received a boost when the International Olympic Committee decided against awarding the 2004 Olympic Games to Cape Town. This meant that government money which might have gone to Cape Town to help to improve South Africa's international image became available for a Grand Prix at Kyalami. The Johannesburg circuit has a number of advantages as all the necessary infrastructure is already in place and the track has already hosted two Grands Prix in the 1990s.
The Chinese have been quietly working away at preparing for a Grand Prix with Chinese officials being regular visitors at F1 races and the Zhuhai International circuit gaining experience with international GT sportscar races. The circuit has strong links with Marlboro and as the Chinese are not apparently worried about tobacco advertising - despite a theoretical ban - Zhuhai is a likely destination for F1 in the years ahead.
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