Premier 1 Grand Prix gets the nod

THE soccer-affiliated Formula 1 rival, Premier 1 Grand Prix, has been given provisional backing by the FIA's World Motorsports Council to continue the buildup towards a projected first round in July 2002.

The new series is planned for 24 cars, all of a single chassis design and manufacture and with identical 3-liter V10 powerplants. Although the cars have so far been anticipated to be Dallara chassis powered by Judd engines, it was revealed by the series' race director Robin Webb that no deal has yet been signed with either supplier and Reynard has shown interest in the contract for the chassis build.

Meanwhile Premier 1 boss Colin Sullivan is continuing his efforts to recruit soccer clubs to the cause. So far Portuguese club Benfica and English title challengers Leeds United have confirmed their support, each featuring launches of dummy cars in their home stadia. It is the aim of the series to have each car carrying the colors of a top soccer club, with three teams each from the English, French, German, Italian and Spanish leagues with the rest coming from the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and South America.

"Market research demonstrated that there is a strong crossover between football and motor racing fans," Sullivan has claimed. "Over 40 percent of football season-ticket holders in every country have a keen interest in motor sport which offers Premier 1 Grand Prix a substantial new fan base from its start when the supporters' favorite teams hit the race circuits."

The race meetings are planned to consist of two one hour races for Premier 1 cars, and the opening event is pencilled in for July 7 2002 at Estoril, Portugal. This date follows one week after the soccer World Cup Final in Yokohama, Japan, and clashes with the provisional date for the British Grand Prix.

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