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OCTOBER 27, 2004

Tilke to build new Mexican circuit

Hermann Tilke will build the new Mexican Grand Prix circuit at Cancun. The German architect, who builds all the F1 tracks today, will oversee the construction of the $70m facility which will be located close to Cancun's international airport. The promoters of the idea have signed a five-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone with the first race planned for October 2006, if the work can be finished in the time available. Work will begin in January and the design will apparently feature a series of bridges as the track turns on itself. The local state government has donated a 940-acre site for the construction but is otherwise not involved in the funding of the project, which is designed to increase interest in Cancun in the low season when the city's 50,000 hotel rooms are often empty, with an occupancy rate of around 50%.

The launch of the race in Mexico City involved Federal Tourism Secretary Rodolfo Elizondo, Quintana Roo state Tourism Secretary Artemio Santos Santos, Quintana Roo Governor Joaquin Hendricks.

The backing for the project comes from businessmen who are hoping that the event will bring in 150,000 and estimate that the race will produce $200m in revenue over the five years of the deal. Luis Silveira of the Grupo Promotor Inversiones Caribenas, which signed the deal with Bernie Ecclestone says that the details of the deal are a secret but he said that the fees were included in the projected $20m that organizers plan to spend in addition to the $70m for construction. This does not sound a very likely figure as some of the current F1 races are paying $40m a year for their races.

It is worth noting that part of the funding for the project is coming from a German venture capital company called VivaFutura, which specializes in investing in Mexico.