Friday, February 11, 2011

Bernard says Motegi not a good fit

(Helio - "This is the thanks I get for moving over to let Danica win?")

(by Curt Cavin 2-9-11)

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said today that the series’ race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan didn’t work for either party, and that’s why the annual event won’t be held after this year.

The final race is Sept. 18.

“To us, it didn’t fit in that time of the year,” Bernard said. “Here we are gaining momentum for the championship and we have this race at 2 in the morning.

“It would make more sense if you had a big TV following in Japan, but it’s marginal.”

As for the track’s ability to make money on the event that requires expensive international transportation, Bernard said “it was a fair deal, but no one was doing great.”

The 1.5-mile egg-shaped track in the mountains north of Tokyo opened in 1997 and hosted five Champ Car World Series events before switching to IndyCar. Motegi is owned by Mobilityland Corp., a wholly owned unit of Honda Motor Co.

Scott Sharp won the first IndyCar race in 2003. Danica Patrick won her only series race there in 2007. Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves won two races each.

Bernard said he isn’t worried about losing an oval track because there “are plenty of options.” He declined to name them, but he has been particularly interested in Phoenix International Raceway.

Also possibilities: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.; Chicagoland Speedway; Nashville Superspeedway, among others.

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