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F1 2010


First it was Bahrain, then came Dubai, then Qatar, later on Abu Dhabi and now it is Saudi Arabia which is booking its place ?³n the international and regional motor-sport map.

The upcoming importance and role of Saudi Arabia in the international motor-sport scene just became very obvious this week when FIA President Jean Todt completed a one-day visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as a guest of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). Todt was accompanied by Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s FIA World Council member.

Todt will attend the FIA World Council meeting in Bahrain this week, prior to the opening round of the Formula One World Championship at the Sakhir circuit at the weekend.

He arrived in Riyadh on Monday evening and was welcomed by a party headed by Mishaal Al-Sudairy, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, and Saud bin Abdulaziz, sports deputy for the President General of Youth Welfare.

During a hectic schedule of engagements in his 24-hour visit to the Kingdom, Todt visited the new Dirab racetrack complex, which has a planned completion date at the end of 2010. He visited the recently-established Zain Reem International Circuit, Saudi Arabia’s premier motor racing circuit facility, near Riyadh.

Todt also met HRH Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz, President General of Youth Welfare, Head of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) and President of the Saudi Youth and Sports Body.

He discussed various aspects of motoring-related matters with HRH Prince Sultan in the presence of Mishaal Al-Sudairy. Over lunch he also met SAMF board members and talked about a diverse range of topics.

“Jean Todt discussed various aspects of world motor sport with representatives from the SAMF and the motor clubs in Saudi Arabia,� enthused Al-Sudairy. “It was a very positive and successful first visit by the new FIA President and he discussed topics as diverse as mobility, various motor sporting disciplines and aspects of road safety.�

Todt was very pleased with his visit and acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s rapid progress through the ranks of world motor sport. He also recognised the country’s potential for off-road motor sport, particularly for rallies and Baja-type events.

“We were extremely grateful to Jean Todt and delighted that he took the time to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,� added Al-Sudairy.

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East region and has a relatively recent motor sporting history. It has already hosted the opening round of the 2010 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas in Ha’il in the north-central region of the country and has a thriving race circuit programme at the Zain Reem International Circuit, near Riyadh.

The circuit already hosts rounds of the popular Saudi Radical and Zain Lotus race series’ and is a regular venue on the calendar for the Chevrolet Middle East Championship and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation is also putting the finishing touches to the route and format for the fourth round of the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which will take place in the Eastern Province on April 20th-22nd.

Saudi motor-sport talents, such as Raed Abuzinadah, are getting heavily involved in regional motorsport cups such as the Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East.

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