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Sunday June 9, 2013

Plan for F1 race in Bangkok stalls as law bans car racing

BANGKOK: Bangkok’s chances of hosting a lucrative Formula One race have faded after planners banned car racing from the city’s historic quarter, officials said on Friday.

The city was touted to host a landmark F1 night race in 2015, with a track mooted for the tourist area around the Grand Palace and a number of major Buddhist temples.

But Bangkok’s Metropolitan Authority have stymied the proposal with a law banning “car racing” from the zone.

“The law came into effect on May 16 prohibiting car racing in inner Bangkok because that area is a conservation for culture and arts,” Kriangphon Pattanarat, director general of City Planning Department told reporters.

The law has been under discussion for two or three years, he said, adding it was not specifically targeted at F1.

An F1 race would likely have brought tens of thousands of wealthy tourists to the capital as the sport looks to deepen its influence in Asia.

Opposition to the proposed race had been voiced by local residents around the potential track who said the event would have damaged their incomes and caused more traffic in the already gridlocked city.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Somsak Phurisisak confirmed the law had been enacted and car racing can no longer take place in the city’s historic zone.

“Whatever is illegal we will not do,” he said.

“I have been told yesterday on the new city planning law,” he added, voicing hopes Formula One’s governing body would consider laying on a race in another Thai province.

The move into Bangkok would have marked a new milestone in F1’s drive into Asia, where Singapore, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Japan all feature on the racing calendar this season. — AFP

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