Brands Hatch set for CART return

Brands Hatch is poised to replace Rockingham as the UK venue for the 2003 round of the CART Championship Series.

Brands Hatch set for CART return

The Kent track is likely to be joined by Spa-Francorchamps and Estoril on successive weekends in May as the championship goes on the offensive against its rival the Indy Racing League and its centrepiece, the Indianapolis 500.

The Rockingham oval looks set to split with CART unless its bosses can renegotiate its contract with the series after incurring heavy losses from the two races held at the venue. A spokesperson for circuit owners Octagon denied that a deal had already been done.

"We have had a couple of conversations with CART in the past but nothing serious. We're not in a position to do anything until that [Rockingham's contract with CART] is sorted out. Then we have to take a look at it."

Brands Hatch hosted a one-off CART race back in 1978 and its inclusion on the calendar would mark its return to the top flight single seater stage for the first time since it hosted its last British Grand Prix in 1986.

The Belgian government's decision to relax its anti-tobacco legislation has paved the way for Spa to maintain a presence on the international single seater scene. The circuit has lost its place on the Formula 1 calendar for next year.

As for the Portuguese Estoril track, it has long been said that CART wanted a venue in southern Europe, particularly since the only Champ Car race on the continent, at Germany's Eurospeedway Lausitz, was dropped this year.

The addition of the three European races would probably see CART dropping the Chicago race from its schedule. The event has struggled financially in recent years, and CART was forced to take over the organisation of the race this year.

CART boss Chris Pook has yet to comment on the story.

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