India GP targets long-term success
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The success of last season's inaugural Indian Grand Prix has convinced organisers they can build both a long-lasting legacy within Formula One and break even on their substantial outlay within "five to seven years".
Jaypee Sports International Ltd (JPSI) raced against time to get the $450 million (278 million pounds) Buddh International Circuit ready for motor racing's most prestigious series last October with the event running smoothly after some early teething problems.
The Herman Tilke-designed 5.14km circuit on the outskirts of Delhi has also landed a four-year contract to host a round of the FIM Superbike World Championship from next year, which the organisers hope will boost the facility's financial viability.
"The commercial proposition is such that you can't hope to recover it in a couple of years," JPSI managing director and chief executive Sameer Gaur told Reuters in an interview.
"You have to look at it from a long-term view. Maybe five to seven years, that's the time when one should be looking at breaking even," he said.
Now that the foundations had been laid, the immediate job at hand, Gaur said, was to develop the circuit into a Formula One village.
"It's time to create some entertainment zones. Fans want a race which would be a three-day picnic. We have to create that facility and we are doing it," Gaur added.
"The proposed underground metro service (scheduled for completion in 2015) would improve transport and there would be more restaurants and hotels too.
"In the next couple of years, we have to create an F1 village there, so that a fan can enjoy the race and the entertainment surrounding it."
World champion Sebastian Vettel triumphed in the inaugural race almost a year ago and Gaur promised an even better experience in the second race on October 28.
"God was very kind, we got a perfect start last year," he said.
"Of course, some finishing touches were missing but everything is in order this year and you won't hear any complaints."
McLaren's Jenson Button finished second last year and was among those who tipped the circuit to become a firm favourite among the drivers.
After witnessing close to 100,000 fans cheering the grand prix staged around the undulating circuit, Gaur said there was no reason for anyone to doubt Button's verdict.
"It should be, it has to, we have to do it," he stressed.
"Jaypee Group is proud of what we have created and we would be disappointed if it does not happen. We have to make this circuit one of the most favourite tracks on the calendar. It won't happen overnight, it's a process.
"We had nothing but positive feedback from the drivers and teams after the race last year.
"Some 95,000 people turned up to cheer them on the race day. We hope fans will come again with the same spirit."
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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