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MARCH 22, 2001

Malaysia wants to retain March date

OFFICIALS at the Sepang circuit - the host of the Malaysian Grand Prix - have said they want to keep the race in its March date on the calendar despite poor attendances last weekend.

The circuit has secured the rights to host the event until 2010 and officials at Sepang are hoping a steady date will increase interest in the race and bring in the funds before it is too late.

"It is better to stay to one date," said a circuit spokesperson. "And we are trying to keep the March date for all the events."

With a switch from the end of season last year to the second race of the season for 2001, the Malaysian races were virtually back-to-back, and the lack of time available to promote this year's event was blamed for the poor attendance.

The circuit spokesperson admitted that Sepang had failed to break even once again, and said: "It was still a loss but this year was a transition period and hopefully next year will be better.

"The event is promoted as a national event more to promote Malaysia and get people to hear about Malaysia. So from a company perspective it was a loss, but it was a national gain."

Although not able to comment on fears that the circuit is in financial trouble, the spokesperson hinted as such by adding: "The past three events were not in profit."

Next year's race will be held on March 17, and that gives the race organizers plenty of time to promote the race.