With the roar of the season-ending A1 Grand Prix Shanghai still lingering from early this month, China is gearing up for another tournament in a bid to create more motor racing opportunities for local drivers.
The Asian Geely Formula International Open (AGF), sanctioned by FIA and Federation of China Autorsports (FASC), will be the first domestic Formula event and will be held in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in four stages from June to September.
There are 20 cars from 10 teams that will take part in the debut race.
Apart from hosting one stage of the F1 world championships and A1 Grand Prix, China has no local formula racing event, prompting a dilemma for drivers, who either have to spend a big sum of money in competing in overseas tournaments or compete at lower-level competitions on home soil.
Some believe it is also embarrassing that local drivers don't have a chance to compete in FI, while A1 Chinese drivers are not able to challenge world's top drivers and generally finish at the bottom of the table.
"Due to the lack of formula cars, China has to rely on other world major tournaments. But it is unlikely for Chinese driver to compete in F1 for the time being,"' said Wan Heping, vice chairman of FASC.
"The successful design of Geely formula cars set the solid basic for China to host high-level formula events and there are chances there for more local drivers to get involved."
The car, co-designed by Geely, China's biggest private-owned vehicle producer and world's racing cars production giant Van-Diemen, marks the first time that a domestic car producer is involved in the racing car design.
The selection for the drivers has already started and anyne over 18 years old from home and abroad is eligible to apply for the qualifiers, where all entrants will fight for the competition tickets.
"Since the preparation started last month, many pro drivers reached us and asked for the selection information," said LiuJianquan, secretary of the organizing committee.
"AGF is a good platform to enhance driver's skill and will help develop Chinese formula drivers."
(China Daily April 25, 2006)