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South Africa gets a Grand Prix

THERE will be a South African Grand Prix next year - for World Championship 500cc motorcycles. The event will be held in April at the Phakisa International Raceway which is located at Welkom in the Free State, 140 miles to the southwest of Johannesburg. This was previously known as Goldfields Raceway but is being given a $16m rebuilding program to host the event. The local government hopes that the Grand Prix will boost tourism in the area.

The deal is for five years and the event is being promoted by Bobby Hartslief, who used to be the promoter of the South African GP Formula 1 race at Kyalami in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Kyalami is still biding for a Formula 1 race in 1998 with the project being backed by the recently-formed Motorsport South Africa organization under Beaulah Schoeman. This is now South Africa's national sporting authority and has very good connections with the South African government.

Despite the optimism in the country it is worth noting that the Rand has fallen heavily against the dollar in recent weeks - 25% in six weeks - and this will make it more difficult for the event to be financed.

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