Decision on Turkish GP Soon, Says Ecclestone

Formula One is very close to awarding Turkey a Grand Prix, with the final decision expected in around two months, the sport's chief Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Decision on Turkish GP Soon, Says Ecclestone

Formula One is very close to awarding Turkey a Grand Prix, with the final decision expected in around two months, the sport's chief Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying on Thursday.

"The chance of a Turkish Formula One leg is 99.9 percent," Turkey's Anatolian news agency quoted Ecclestone as saying during a tour of the Turkish Aegean city of Izmir.

"Before making a final decision I will probably come to Turkey again. We will make our decision in something like two months."

His visit was part of a trip to inspect possible sites in Izmir, in Istanbul and in the Mediterranean city of Antalya.

Turkish motorsport officials, led by Mumtaz Tahincioglu, head of the Automobile and Motorsports Federation, say they have many elements in place to help Turkey secure one of two Grand Prix slots expected to become free by 2005.

"We have reached a deal in principle on a range of issues. There are no problems left," Tahincioglu said.

While some motorsports and rallying are already popular among wealthy Turks, the country currently has no track suitable for a full-blown Formula One race. Tahincioglu said last month that he had won the cabinet's green light for a grant of land suitable for a track and around $27 million to build it.

Turkey, a European Union membership candidate with a population of some 65 million, is struggling to drag itself out of a punishing economic crisis and would welcome the revenue and additional tourists a Grand Prix fixture would bring.

Formula One is seeking ways to expand its calendar beyond the dominance of western European tracks. Ecclestone said on Wednesday that seven countries were competing for the two slots available.

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