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MARCH 23, 2005

A little more about Turkey

The Turkish Grand Prix is fast approaching but the Fomrula 1 circus knows little about the place we were are going to race in the middle of August. The Istanbul Otodrom, as it is is known, is located in the Tepeoren-Tuzla area, to the south-east of Istanbul near the new Sabiha Gokcen International Airport. This is at the centre of Istanbul's Advanced Technology Industry Park project. It is not far inland from the coast of the Sea of Marmora. The idea of a racing track was born in 2003 when an organization called MSO (Motorsporlarõ ve Organizasyon) was established as a joint investment between Formula Istanbul Yatõrõm, a subsidiary of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and The Formula 1 Association of Turkey. This organization is headed by Rifat Hisarciklioglu, who is also chairman of the Union of Turkish Chambers of Commodity Exchanges. MSO aims to make the Istanbul Otodrom a major international racing facility and by doing so contribute to Turkey's sporting image and generate income for the country. Work on the racing circuit began in September 2003 and is due to be completed in May. The track is 3.2 miles in length, longer than many of the modern tracks and runs anti-clockwise. This will be a problem for drivers who are used to clockwise tracks. The heat in August is likely to make this race one of the toughest of the year. The track features 14 corners and there are a number of changes of elevation which will make the track rather different in character to some of the other Hermann Tilke circuits in recent years. The track, which is located close to the major motorway to the east of Istanbul will have a crowd capacity of 130,000 with 25,000 people in the main grandstand. There are 33 pit garages which are decorated to reflect Turkish culture.

The circuit hopes to bid for a major chunk of winter testing as temperatures in the winter months will be a great deal better than at the traditional European venues, even if the transportation of men and machines will be more complicated.

Once the Grand Prix is out of the way, the circuit will move on to a round of the World Touring Car Championship on September 18 and then a DTM race at the start of October so that by the end of the year the venue should be well-established.

The organisers say that the venue will also host international fairs, an advanced driving school, racing schools, karting events, launches, business meetings, conferences, concerts and many projects which are in the planning stage.