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Champ Car eyes race in Malta UPDATE Initial steps to stage a world class motor sport event in Malta have taken place the past few days. A delegation from Canada which included Greg Macdonald, Eleasha Naso and Robert Vilas who are part of the organizing group of the Grand Prix of Edmonton arrived in Malta last Wednesday to meet with the local promoters, potential suppliers, future investors and members of government.

Grand Prix Malta is spearheaded by Bert Kuehne and Martin Mintoff since the late 90s. Stephen Ritchie and Charles Zahra came aboard at a later date. The race in question would be part of the Champ Car World Series.

The group’s vision of hosting a major motor sport event has taken many years of dedicated work and involved investments of both time and capital.

This dream has taken a major step forward on Thursday when the delegation from Canada made a presentation to a trio of Ministers that included Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, Mr. George Pullicino and Mr. Jesmond Mugliett in the hope of receiving support for the project.

The presentation covered what is involved and what anticipated benefits can be achieved through this project. The key factor is the economic benefit to Malta.

Champ Car events attract an average of 150,000 spectators, of which 35 per cent are from exterior origins. The average economic impact during a Champ Car race weekend is $40 million.

The events are normally transmitted live on Eurosport with around 300 million households able to watch the event around the world.

The Champ Car World Series is an international racing competition that includes venues in the US, Canada, Mexico, Korea and Australia. They are presently looking to expand in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Their present calendar of events encompasses 16 races and is looking to fill three open points. The series is one of the most exciting forms of motor sport that compete on a variety of street, airport, oval and road courses. The drivers competing in the series hail from the US, France, Spain Great Briton, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Australia and Brazil.

They include Cristiano da Matta, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, Paul Tracy just to name just a few. Past competitors have included some of the world’s greatest drivers, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Bobby Unser, Emmo Fittipaldi have all competed in this series for numerous years.

The Champ Car World Series competes with a 750hp open wheel chassis vehicle that attains speeds of 390 km/ph.

The group also visited the proposed site of the track and was very impressed with the potential that it offered as an ideal location for all aspects involved in a race event. Champ Car events are more than just a race over a weekend. It involves a number of community events leading up to the race. Champ Car calls this a Festival of Speed. They include a variety of off site initiatives, (Street Fest, Drivers Party, Face of Champ Car, VIP Gala and Speed Zone) that entail local businesses and allow all members of the community to get involved. 

The next steps for the group will involve a presentation to Champ Car officials in the months ahead. That will require a firm site location and a business plan to be in place as well as letters of support from Government and local investors. The Grand Prix Malta group feels confident that they will be ready by July to go to America with all of the components in place and look to have a date on the 2007 Champ Car calendar. Malta Independent

05/18/06 A delegation of three Canadians is meeting a number of ministers today in the hope of persuading them to approve a $15 million investment in an annual Champ Car road race at Ta' Qali [in Malta].

The Champ Car (the term is short for championship car) races are similar to Formula One races, using Ford 2.65 liter, turbocharged V8 engines, with a top speed of about 390 km/h. The Champ Car World Series is mainly based in North America where 13 races were held last year. It was formerly known as the CART PPG IndyCar World Series and the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Efforts to bring Champ Car races to Malta have been underway since 1997. The exclusive franchise rights for Malta are held by former racing driver Bert Kuehne and his partners Martin Mintoff, Stephen Ritchie and Charles Zahra.

Mr. Kuehne, who comes from Edmonton, Canada, is bringing over the director of the Edmonton Grand Prix Greg Macdonald and race promoters Robert Vilas and Eleasha Naso.

"There has always been skepticism about the races but it would be a marvelous opportunity for Malta to get onto the European circuit while it is still a relatively small one. There are already talks underway in Germany and Greece for other races. We are looking at a five-year deal with the first race either at the end of 2007 or early 2008," Mr. Kuehne said.

"We have not given up. When the Powerboat P1 first came here, the welcome was guarded but now see how that has shaped up. We think that there is tremendous synergy between the two races and that Malta will benefit from being on the international competition map for more than one sport," Mr. Kuehne said.

The three-day event would take place on the Ta' Qali perimeter road, avoiding the busy areas around the football stadium and the national park. It would be closed off for the few hours of the race, and the spectator seating and grandstands would be erected during the race and then dismantled again.

The investment would cover the cost of re-surfacing the road and embellishing the area. No outlay from the government would be required.

"However, the economic impact is considerable. In Edmonton, one race attracted 205,000 spectators and brought $23 million into the city," he said.

The proposal has already won attention and support. The Canadians' stay is being sponsored by the Island Hotels Group, with support from Caffé Cordina, Pin Tonino, Ta' Kris, Café Oasis, Mamma Mia, Terrazzo and Ta' Pawlu restaurants. The Times of Malta

Malta, officially the Republic of Malta, is a small and densely populated island nation consisting of an archipelago of seven islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta lies directly south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, and the country's official languages are Maltese and English. The strategically located islands constituting the Maltese nation have been ruled by various powers and fought over for centuries. Malta has been a member state of the European Union since May 1, 2004. It is currently the smallest European Union country in both population and area. Malta is the only nation in the world whose flags bear a decoration awarded by a foreign country.

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