Motor racing-Organisers expect full house for Indian GP

NEW DELHI Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:40pm IST

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NEW DELHI Aug 23 (Reuters) - If the early response is anything to go by, the organisers of the Indian Grand Prix should have little to worry about over the turnout for the country's inaugural Formula One race on the outskirts of Delhi on Oct. 30.

Tickets worth 12.5 million rupees ($273,768) were snapped up in the first three hours of sales on Saturday, leaving Ashish Hemrajani, head of race ticketing partner, in no doubt that there will be a full house at the Buddh International Circuit.

"Honestly, we did expect such a response. After all, it's the first ever Formula One race in India and there was anticipation over when tickets would finally go on sale," Hemrajani told Reuters by phone.

"So far, we have sold tickets worth more than 50 million rupees. We knew the response would be good and we are very pleased.

"Outside cricket and cinema, you don't get such response. I think most of the tickets sold so far must have gone to people living in and around Delhi.

"We would be launching packages soon for the foreigners for their travel and stay. We will see some traction coming soon."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone last week gave the 5.14-km circuit a resounding thumbs-up ahead of its Sept. 1 homologation and home drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok are also impressed by the layout.

"The first time I went there was in April last year and saw a lot of mud and a few ponds," Chandhok told reporters at Saturday's ticket launch programme.

"The undulation they created is very, very impressive... it adds to the character of the circuit," said the reserve driver, who replaced Lotus team mate Jarno Trulli in a one-off appearance in last month's German Grand Prix.

"I think we got two to three special corners with double the width to promote overtaking. This is the first circuit in the world with overtaking zones recommended by some drivers and (FIA race director) Charlie Whiting."

Hispania discard Karthikeyan, who will be back behind the wheel for his home grand prix, had similar views.

"I can straightway relate to some of the corners," the former Jordan driver said. "There are a lot of overtaking opportunities and I have seen four to five such places."

($1 = 45.65 rupees)

(Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email

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