A1GP has shaken up its 2008-09 calendar, just days after being forced to postpone the planned first race because of delays in building its new cars.
The latest changes see the Chinese round of the season moved from its proposed date of December 14 to the earlier weekend of 7-9 November, which had been pencilled in as the date for a trip to Indonesia.
A1GP says the aim of the change is to arrive in the country during better weather, protecting the series from the torrential rains that hit some days of the recent Beijing Olympics.
China is A1GP’s most-visited country, with five races in three seasons, but this year will see a new venue – the earthquake-struck Sichuan Province, where the Chengdu International Circuit will host a meeting that will raise funds for quake relief.
Liu Yu, seat holder for A1 Team China, said :”The severity of the earthquake on the 12 May this year was a shock to everyone worldwide, and both A1GP and A1 Team China will take this opportunity to show support for the local people who have suffered so badly.
“I am sure the fans in Chengdu will be able to show they are getting on with their lives and will give A1GP a warm welcome.”
A1GP Chairman Tony Teixeira added: “Our welcome in China has always been extremely warm and it is very gratifying that we have been invited to race at our fourth different track in this amazing country.”
The Indonesian round that had been scheduled for early November instead moves to 6-8 February next year.
“Making such changes needs a lot of co-operation, and we would especially like to thank the Indonesian Minister of Youth and Sport Affairs, Dr Adhyaksa Dault and IMI the National Motorsports Federation, for consenting to this date change,” said Teixeira.
The series had been expected to launch in Mugello, Italy, in mid-September but was forced to abandon the date because of delays in the build schedule for the Ferrari-inspired cars. One failed in testing, crashing and leaving driver Patrick Friesacher with a spinal injury.
Testing has continued, however, with Silverstone seeing the first runs by a driver with experience of the old Lola / Zykek machines – Danny Watts, who spent some of last season as Team GBR rookie driver and also coached Pakistan’s Adam Khan.
He said: “It has noticeably more power. The new aero package helps driving through the high speed sections of the track even quicker. The carbon brakes work extremely well meaning you can brake a lot later than you ever could before.
“It’s much more like a thoroughbred racing car. Overall the performance is a step up in every department. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the car.”