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Thai Grand Prix gets thumbs up from Ecclestone

NEWS STORY
26/09/2012

It is understood that Bernie Ecclestone has given the go-ahead, in principal, for Thailand to host a round of the Formula One World Championship from 2014.

The news comes following a meeting between the F1 supremo and Kanokphand Chulakasem, governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, and Chalerm Yoovidhya, co-creator of the Red Bull energy drink, over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

According to the Bangkok Post, Kanokphand claims that at the meeting Ecclestone agreed in principle to the race which would enter the schedule in 2014.

"It will be a city race like that in Singapore and Monaco," he said of the event which would be held in Bangkok. "It will be a night race like the Singapore Grand Prix."

While it is stressed that there will be further discussions before the event is officially sanctioned, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa has said the government would underwrite 60 percent of the cost while companies such as Red Bull and Singha would stump up the remaining 40 percent.

The street track would incorporate Ratchadamnoen Avenue which was first mooted as an ideal location for motor racing by Prince Bira (Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh), a Grand Prix and later F1 driver who raced for Maserati, Gordini, and Connaught, the only Thai driver to race in F1.

His plans for a Bangkok Grand Prix, which would have been held on closed roads, date back to 1939, his hopes dashed when the second World War broke out.

In 2010, 100,000 locals turned out to watch Mark Webber give a demonstration run in the Red Bull on a temporary track which included Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

In December, the Race of Champions will take place at the Rajamangala Stadium, home of Thailand's national soccer team. Announcing the event in May, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Chumphol Silpa-archa said: "This race will be a perfect opportunity for Thais to see some of the world's greatest drivers and represents another step by the government in its efforts to promote racing and automotive sports in the Kingdom. We aim to bring Formula One to Thailand as well."

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