British and Irish race fans are going to have to do without an A1GP event next year after the series published its calendar and revealed it will not be visiting either country.
The traditional Brands Hatch end-of-season event is missing. And hopes the Irish capital Dublin would be hosting a race following its team’s last-gasp championship win in May this year have not come to fruition.
The nine-date series will be visiting the Pacific region, the Far East, South Africa and South America and features just three European dates. It is set to race in Portugal and Germany, but any UK fans wanting to catch the action live may be best served by a trip to the season finale in The Netherlands.
Mexico, a date that fell victim to both swine flu and a clash with a rock concert earlier this year, has been reinstated. But Indonesia, which could not get its circuit certified as fit for racing by the FIA in time for the race to go ahead, has been overlooked.
Of course, there might be more pressing events affecting the series. Some of its cars are currently impounded, reportedly awaiting the settlement of a £1 million transport bill, although Paul Cherry, A1GP general manager of franchises and special projects, is adamant they will be available for the season’s Australian launch.
Yesterday Autosport ran a story claiming that Ferrari, which supplies the series engines, was about to pull the plug. But neither the series organisers nor the company would comment on the record.
But, in more positive news, series boss Tony Teixeira announced a tie-in with sports marketing agency IMG to market its worldwide media rights for the next three seasons, a deal which would hopefully provide some financial stability.
The absence of a British date is a worrying development for another reason – it could signify that no British team will be taking part in the self-styled World Cup of Motorsport.
After Team GBR went into administration in the spring there has been no word on its future or whether the series has been able to find a new franchisee to take it on. And series rules mean a country must have an active team in order to host a race.
Despite assurances from Teixeira that Team GBR would run as long as there was an A1GP series, dropping the race from a country that has been on the calendar since its very start would not seem to be grounds for optimism that the car will run.
The 2009/10 A1GP calendar
- Australia: October 25
- China: November 15
- Malaysia: December 6
- South Africa: February 28
- Brazil: March 14
- Mexico: March 21
- Portugal: April 11
- Germany: May 2
- The Netherlands: May 16