GPM aiming to take Spa's F1 slot
|By Tim Redmayne||Thursday, April 27th 2006, 09:37 GMT|
Grand Prix Masters organisers are moving towards a deal to run a race at Spa on the same date the Belgian Grand Prix was due to be held, autosport.com can reveal.
The Belgian Grand Prix, originally scheduled for September 17, was dropped from the Formula One calendar in February after being in doubt for several weeks because of problems over who would promote it.
Organisers have held talks with circuit officials about taking the date and GP Masters' Belgian driver, Eric van de Poele, is behind the plan, and is now working with the series and local authorities to achieve the necessary sponsorship for the race.
Van de Poele is also attempting to get all GP Masters drivers, including former world champions Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi, to sign a letter of support for the potential Spa race in Qatar this weekend, to bring to the organisers.
One GP Masters insider said the chances of the series racing in Spa this season was 70-30 in their favour, but there are still issues to be negotiated.
GP Masters' planned race at Monza on June 18 is still in doubt, with the threat of continued noise restrictions at the track, and Spa would be seen as a potential replacement for a 2006 round on a classic Formula One circuit.
"Hopefully we will get clarity on Monza soon," Grand Prix Masters CEO Scott Poulter told autosport.com. "If there is a possibility of a race in Spa, with Eric joining us and the date now being open, it would be fantastic.
"It is a real possibility. We have had some tentative discussion in Belgium. The discussion we have had and the people we have spoken to have been very easy to deal with.
"With Eric joining us it will boost the national interest too. Everybody would love to go there. Now we've got to come up with a suitable commercial package for success."
Van de Poele is convinced that a race in Spa would keep much of the crowd attendance that would have been present for the Grand Prix this season.
"While F1 is not at the circuit this year, it is very important we keep the spirit of Formula One alive in Belgium," Van de Poele told autosport.com. "We would have 50,000 to 60,000 people there definitely.
"I've got about two weeks to make this happen. But it's quite hard for us with political situation in Belgium. I dream about the circuit. It could happen this year.
"The series is convinced it is a good idea, but now we just have to find people to take the risk to have GP Masters in Spa and to find sponsors for the organisation.
"When you have a race track where you have a very difficult moments in the past like Spa, with the politics, it is difficult to recover that directly, and people are careful as a result.
"But it would be a proper circuit with proper drivers. I've been doing everything I can since January to make this happen. It was my first goal and target to get Grand Prix Masters in Spa."