| NEW DELHI, April 15
NEW DELHI, April 15 Construction of India's
Formula One track would not be affected by the global financial
meltdown and it would be ready for its inaugural race in 2011,
according to the head of the construction company building it.
"The progress is very nice...I'm absolutely, absolutely
confident (it will be completed)," Samir Gaur, managing
director of India's JPSK Sports Pvt Ltd, who are building the
track, told Reuters. "The track will be ready in 2011."
The company has been floated by Jaiprakash Associates, a
diversified group with market capitalisation of $2.8 billion
that is controlled by Gaur's family.
Jaiprakash is India's largest builder of dams with
interests in hospitality, engineering, construction and energy.
The track would be located around 50 km from the capital
New Delhi and near Greater Noida, a fast growing satellite
There had been doubts whether work would be delayed due to
the financial crisis, especially after Formula One supremo
Bernie Ecclestone said last October the inaugural race had been
postponed from 2010.
"The race was pushed back from 2010 because of the Formula
One calendar," Gaur said. "From what we understand, they had
scheduled an India race only in 2011."
The funds for the track have been secured and work would
progress as planned, he added.
Gaur's company acquired the rights to hold F1 races in
India after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) took the
initial steps to bring a grand prix to the country.
"The design stage is in progress and regarding
construction, the investigations of the site have also
started," he said.
Cricket-mad India has a huge Formula One following and the
nation's ambitions in the sport have grown along with its
Narain Karthikeyan became India's first Formula One driver
when he raced for the Jordan team in 2005 while Indian liquor
and airline billionaire Vijay Mallya owns the Force India team.
Gaur's company has ambitious plans to build a sports hub
around the 200,000 seater track, with plans for a 100,000
capacity cricket stadium, an 18-hole golf course as well as a
25,000 capacity hockey stadium and a sports academy.
"It is going to be a sports destination," he said.
"The facility would be spread around 500 acres.It will have
the Formula One track and the buildings. It can accommodate
around 200,000 people."
Track construction is estimated to cost up to $364 million.
"The figures vary, but the track construction will not be
less than between 15 billion rupees to 18 billion rupees (up to
$363.78 million). This is just a ball-park figure.
"I'm expecting the track to be completed in April 2011," he
said. "We plan to run trial events between May and July so that
in October I think we can fix the calendar for the race."
India has no immediate plans to emulate Singapore by
staging a night race.
"There is no plan for a night race right now," Gaur said. "We
want to see the outcome of the first race after which we will
see if we can do a night race."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury; To query or comment on this story