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F1 aces linked to $2m i1 Supercar Series
James Jose / 19 December 2011
After India successfully hosted the inaugural Formula One Airtel India Grand Prix in October, Machdar Motorsports floated the idea of an IPL-style motorsport series based on city franchises to promote the sport in India. And it seems, that is not a pipe dream anymore.
The i1 Supercar Series is gathering momentum before the inaugural series next year and it is rumoured that India’s very own Karun Chandhok apart from a host of Formula One drivers will be participating in the series.
The Khaleej Times has learnt that India’s Formula One driver Karun Chandhok will drive for one of the franchises.
There is also talk of India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan too throwing his hat into the ring. Apart from these two famous Indian drivers, there are rumours that some of the big names in Formula One will take part in the series.
Vitantonio Luizzi, Giancarlo Fisichella, the legendary Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen have been linked to the series.
The drivers, teams and the calendar will be officially announced at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.
Luizzi drove for Force India and Hispania Racing Team in Formula, while Fisichella started his career with backmarkers Minardi before going on to race for Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India and Ferrari.
The legendary Alesi had a long career in Formula One with 201 race starts. The Frenchman raced for Tyrrell, Ferrari, Benetton, Sauber, Prost and Jordan during his heydays.
He is currently the ambassador for the Lotus and is also the test driver for the T125 single-seater.
German Heinz-Harald Frentzen raced for Sauber, Williams, Jordan, Prost and Arrows.
There will nine city-based teams with 18 drivers and races in five venues across the Middle East and in India. Races will be held in the UAE, Malaysia, Bahrain, Qatar and India. The spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will host a race and could be the season-opener.
Sepang in Malaysia, Bahrain, Doha and India are the other venues. There will be 10 races at the five FIA-approved venues with two races each.
Sepang is also a possible candidate to host the season-opener. The season-finale will be at the Buddh International Circuit, venue of the Airtel India Grand Prix.
The teams that have been confirmed are Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. Promoters Machdar Motorsports had also announced that cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as the brand ambassador for the series.
The Mumbai franchise is owned by Bollywood superhero Shah Rukh Khan, while Hyderabad is owned by Telegu star Nagarjuna.
Corporates too have sat up and taken notice.
Management guru and owner of IIPM Arindam Chaudhuri is the owner of the Delhi franchise, while hotelier Arjun Baljee, the Head of Peppermint Group of Hotels owns the Bangalore franchise.
Businessman Raghu Raju is the owner of the Chennai franchise.
The teams will race the Radical Sportscars’ SR3 roadster and each team will be represented by two drivers.
The Radical Sportscars’ SR3 is designed to touch speeds of 250kmph and will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just three seconds, while the drivers experience up to 2.5 G force around corners.
Teams will compete for the $2 million prize money.
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