Season-opener is postponed

Series organiser CART and race promoter Dover Motorsports Inc have announced the postponement of the Grand Prix of St Petersburg, the opening round of next year's Champ Car World Series

Season-opener is postponed

The second running of the temporary circuit event was to have taken place on February 22, but CART says the impending stockholder vote and possible change in ownership of the series limited the time that the teams would have to prepare for the 2004 season.

"There are many issues involved in the pending sale and privatization of the company, but chief among those is the fact that our teams need a certain amount of time to properly prepare themselves for a racing season," said CART president Chris Pook. "We looked at many options, including changing the St. Petersburg race date, but the onset of Major League Baseball Spring Training in Florida limits the available spring dates. We will continue to work with the city of St. Petersburg to find an appropriate race date for the community in hopes of returning to St. Petersburg in 2004 and beyond."

CART says it took steps to ensure the future of the event by acquiring the rights as well as all supporting safety equipment associated with the successful operation of the event from Dover Motorsports Inc, allowing CART to hold a race in St. Petersburg pending final approval by the city.

The postponement means that the series' showpiece event will kick off the Champ Car season, as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is now scheduled to start the year on April 16-18. Dover Motorsports Inc, which will also serve as the race promoter for the Long Beach event, announced that it will issue refunds to all fans who purchased tickets to the St. Petersburg race.

"While we regret that the Champ Car fans won't get the opportunity to see the 2004 season begin in St. Petersburg, we are delighted to kick off a great year of racing with one of the most popular events on our schedule," said Pook. "This will ensure that our teams have sufficient time to ready themselves for the 2004 campaign."

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