A1GP season opener cancelled

Sydney - The season-opening A1GP race in Australia has been cancelled at short notice and legal action considered against organizers, adding to doubts about the viability of the troubled auto series.

The A1GP series was scheduled to open at Surfers Paradise in Queensland state next week, as a replacement for the American IndyCar series which had previously been staged there but withdrew in a disagreement about dates.

A1GP officials and local organizers confirmed Saturday that it would not proceed.

Financial problems in the offseason saw A1GP Operations Ltd go into liquidation, and the cars were impounded by a freight company seeking outstanding payments. A1GP said in a statement Saturday that time had run out to have the cars prepared for the season opener.

"The series found itself in a race against time to make the deadline for when its cars would have to leave the U.K. to be on track in Surfers Paradise next Thursday," A1 said in a statement. "The series organizers never doubted this was possible, but today have been forced to accept this now cannot happen."

The Queensland state government, which supports the event, was fuming at the late withdrawal, and Sports Minister Phil Reeves said it would "pursue legal avenues" to get back the sanctioning fee and other expenses.

Event general manager Greg Hooton told Australian Associated Press that the reputation of A1GP "has been absolutely shattered."

"I actually believe the series is probably not going to race this year," Hooton said.

"I'm disappointed, angry, upset and let down. It was all those emotions but we have to move on."

A statement issued by A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira said the upcoming season would continue as planned without the Australia date, and believes the national-team series can survive despite its growing difficulties.

"A1GP may be down, but I do not accept we are out," Teixeira said.

"My efforts will be on finding a way forward with the support of some very loyal people."

The Australian event, stripped of the headlining open-wheeler events of IndyCar or A1GP, will go ahead with increased racing by the local V8 touring car series.

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