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Ecclestone in India next month

Battle is joined for an F1 Indian GP. A delegation from the state of Andhra Pradesh, whose capital is Hyderabad, emerged encouraged from a one-hour meeting with Formula One Management principal Bernie Ecclestone at Monza over the weekend. "He [Ecclestone] is coming in October," said chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. "If he gives clearance, we can go for 2006." Last week the city of Mumbai (Bombay) mounted a rival bid, supported by India's ASN [Sep 12].

The southern city of Hyderabad, an emerging technology centre, is the current front-runner to stage a race. Naidu continued: "The Indian viewing public for F1 is already 100m. It's the second most popular sport back home after cricket. Through F1, I can create 100,000 jobs directly and indirectly. Foreign investment will come - hotels, tourism spin-offs. After China, India is the biggest [growth] market. It's a win-win situation.

"If we get the clearance, there will be the question of infrastructure. It's only the F1 track we have to build, and that's not a big issue. The government is fully supporting building a track and there are already some private donors showing interest."

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