A1 GP organisers in top gear for 2007 event
Date: 12 Jan, 2007
Preparations for 2007 A1 Grand Prix are now moving into top gear, organiser Dana Cooper said on Thursday.
"Now that everyone is back at work, it's full steam ahead," said Cooper, the chief executive of A1 Grand Prix Team South Africa, during a hectic round of meetings, some carried out down in what will eventually be the drivers' pit, now being constructed at the beachfront.
Ticket sales for the February 23-25 world-class event - to be televised to racing fans in some 160 countries - are going well, and Cooper is predicting an early sell-out, particularly for the general admission area.
She is hoping that more than 140 000 fans will attend the three-day event, which in 2006 attracted 105 000 people.
There will be 12 big screens (and maybe even 14) around the track for 2007, so that fans can watch all the action all the time. In 2006, there were just six.
Drivers from the 24 competing countries are also counting the days to the Durban event, she said.
"They are very excited. They did not know what to expect last time; they didn't know where Durban was. They love this street circuit, and love the environment and the buzz," she said.
A lot of activities are being planned for them to showcase the city and the region.
"And they are absolutely insisting that they go back to uShaka to dive with the sharks," Cooper said.
The drivers would be flying in early, with the Mexican team arriving a full week before the Grand Prix.
On the question of the long queues experienced for refreshments in 2006, she said that this time there would be "concessionaire areas everywhere".
Access, in the form of an overhead bridge, had also been created to the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.
And unlike 2006, every seat in the grandstands will be numbered, which means that if people leave their seats, they will be able to get them back on their return.
2006 Durban race won the award for being the best event on the A1 Grand Prix calendar, and the pressure was on to retain the title, said Cooper.
Competition would come from the Netherlands, where every fan turned up kitted out in orange shirts, creating a colourful spectacle.
How would Durban compete with that?
"In 2006, we gave away about 10 000 T-shirts with the South African flag on them. And we will probably do the same again this time," Cooper said.