This coastal city in South China's Guangdong Province is set to host the fourth race of a major international motor sport competition next spring.
The Champ Car World Series (CCWS), an American motor sport series, is gearing up to roll on the Zhuhai International Circuit on May 18-20 next year.
Champ car is a shortened form of championship car, a class of racing car popular primarily in North America. Though champ cars resemble the sort of cars driven in Formula 1 (F1) racing, they are heavier and run on methanol rather than gasoline. The CCWS also allows the use of turbocharged engines.
"Compared to its long history and the car's high speed, the race's development in China has been a little slow," said Steve Johnson, president of the CCWS.
CCWS was first launched in June 1909 in the United States. It has since expanded to tracks in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Mexico, the Netherlands and now, starting next year, Chinese mainland.
Zhuhai will host the fourth race of the CCWS 2007 season, Johnson said.
"With the participation of some of the world's top drivers, we expect the car-racing culture to be highly promoted in China," Steve said.
CCWS is planning to invite Chinese drivers to compete in races next year, he added.
"The greatest challenge we're facing at the moment is how to win over China's racing fans, who already know more about F1 than CCWS," Steve said.
He said CCWS's first priority was to help local fans find out more about the champ car competition.
"On that basis, we will do our best to nurture a group of promising Chinese drivers to take part in our races. Activities aimed at developing Chinese drivers have already become part of our plans in the Chinese racing market," Johnson said.
"So it is our hope that Chinese drivers can appear as soon as possible in the CCWS," Steve said in an interview with China Daily yesterday.
Top drivers like Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, AJ Allendinger and Alex Tagliani will be in action during the three-day event in Zhuhai.
Roberto Moreno, 47, a driver from Brazil, said the 2007 season was totally open, and that any driver had the chance to win.
"Unlike F1, CCWS requires a uniform vehicle model, engine and manual-only gear-shifting. As a result, winning the CCWS depends highly on driver's skills and expertise, which are of paramount importance," Moreno said in an interview with China Daily yesterday.
F1 racing, which originates in Britain, sets distinct specifications on the vehicles, but none on gear-shifting, meaning that the outcome of F1 races depends more on car performance than on the ability of the driver, he added.
The Brazilian driver, who won CCWS's Macao round in 1982, took the latest model of the CCWS racing car out for a test spin on Zhuhai International Circuit yesterday.
The racing organization would like to eventually hold two CCWS events on the Chinese mainland, and may select another city to act as host.
"With the commencement of the races in China, all the associated sponsors' exhibitions, music shows, golf competitions, the selection of the mascot for the China prix and other related events will also be launched here," said Elliot Friedman, chairman of FRC USA LLC, the US-based company that acts as the exclusive promoter of CCWS racing in China.
Source: China Daily