Fight for our race — Durbanites back A1GP’s return

2008-02-23 00:00

DESPITE the ear-shattering noises, traffic congestion and road closures, Durbanites want the A1GP race to return to the city for another season.

While the city deliberates on the future of the A1GP race in Durban, fans told the Weekend Witness that it would be a “great loss” if the city did not bid for more races.

Yesterday, die-hard racing fans, armed with umbrellas, hats and water bottles, braved the heat to watch the A1 drivers battle it out on the track, which is a favourite among the drivers.

Even South Africa’s A1GP driver Adrian Zaugg’s girlfriend, Melissa Piedrahita, marvelled at Durban’s street circuit and how great it was to have the event in such a “beautiful city”.

Piedrahita, a former Miss Panama, told Weekend Witness that Durban should host more races in future. “It’s very much like my city. The weather is great, the people are warm and friendly and the circuit, I’m told, is an exciting one,” she said.

North Beach resident Anwar Akbar said that he was disappointed when he heard that it was Durban’s last race. “I have attended all three races and they were brilliant. The city should definitely bring the race back because it belongs in Durban.”

Akbar said that he didn’t mind the noise, traffic congestion and other “hiccups” caused by the event because it showcased Durban and all its attractions.

“The inconvenience is only for a few weeks and it is definitely worth it,” he said.

Sipho Ndlovu, a cleaner at the event, said the race brought people together and most importantly created hundreds of jobs for the unemployed.

“It gives us jobs and brings a lot of tourism for the city. It would be sad if we lost the race to another city. The city needs to fight very hard to have more races here,” he said.

Another resident, Mthengwa Mkhize, said that the A1GP race meant millions for the city and was great for marketing Durban to the world. “The race is very important in terms of tourism and revenue for the city. It gives people jobs and creates business for small companies.”

Kim Dornan from Amanzimtoti said that the Durban circuit was one of the best in the world, a good reason for the city to host more races.

“I’m sure many fans will be disappointed if they take the race away,” she said.

Racing fan Vish Pillay has given up hope of seeing another race in Durban. “I don’t think it’s coming back. The ticket prices are ridiculous … They should also market the event more to attract international spectators,” he said.

Pillay said that the next South African leg of the international race will probably be held in Kyalami.

“I have a feeling we might lose it to Kyalami because they have a track that’s ready to race on. It’s expensive and time consuming to build a circuit,” he said.

Meanwhile, things sizzled on the race track when Team Netherlands notched the quickest times in the official practice session, while Team Germany came in second.

At a media briefing, Zaugg appeared relaxed and even joked with journalists when they asked about his mediocre practice session.

“It’s Friday, I can take my time,” he laughed.

He said that although he experienced problems with his tyres, he was confident of a good performance tomorrow. “This race gets more competitive each season. I’m confident that we will have a good run,” he said.

There will be plenty of action for spectators today with a supercars parade, a Forza GT challenge and Ferrari parades.

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