New series nets football sponsorship

A brand new single-seater racing series, which boasts near-Formula 1 performance and sponsorship from leading football clubs, is due to hit European tracks in 2002

New series nets football sponsorship

The series, known as Premier 1 Grand Prix, will involve one-car teams running a 4-litre Judd-powered Dallara chassis, developing around 750bhp, with each car sporting the livery of a major European football team.

"Imagine putting an Indy Racing League car on a road course," said one source. "It won't be as fast as an F1 car, but it won't be a million miles away either."

The project is the brainchild of a group of experts put together by millionairess Elizabeth Evans and Colin Sullivan, the Essex businessman who was behind a bid for the Silverstone freehold three years ago and is a friend of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The emphasis for the one-make championship is on driver ability and entertainment, not technology, and as such the organisers say it will not be in competition with Formula 1.

"The series is not technically a rival to F1," said Gary Crumpler, marketing director of Premier 1 Racing. "Our cars will never be near a McLaren or a Ferrari with an engine revving at 18 000rpm. That's not our beef. We want to put on a good show and attract drivers who can handle a V10-engined car and show off their skills."

The championship will comprise 12 rounds - 11 in Europe and one in South America - on non-Grand Prix weekends. Each round will consist of two one-hour races with a 15-minute break in between and two qualifying sessions to decide the grid for each race. Pit stops will be allowed during the race for tyre changes only.

The championship has been a closely-guarded secret during its development over the last two years. Negotiations with football clubs are well advanced, with some contracts already issued. Plans are already in place to expand the series into other areas where football markets are strong such as further into South America and the Far East.

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