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  Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Egypt bids for F1 status
The pyramids and Sphinx outside Cairo in Egypt
A new track could be built within sight of the pyramids
Egypt could become a new stopover on the Formula One circuit if plans for a circuit near the Pyramids are given the green light.

One of the designs which has been put forward is based on the shape of the Sphinx, the ancient half-human, half-lion structure.

"The plans are pretty advanced at this stage," said Ashraf Mahmoud, chairman and chief executive officer of the Egyptian Motor Sport Corporation, in Austria this weekend as a guest of F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.

"We have been working on the project since July 1998 and we now have the full approval and support of the Egyptian government.

"The feedback from Bernie has been positive and he has been to Egypt.

"We are considering sites on the Red Sea coast. But Cairo as a city has a charm in itself.

"The most preferred site is on the outskirts of greater Cairo, on the west side of the Nile about 10 minutes drive from the Pyramids which would be in view for television.

Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone holds the key to F1

"There are no archaeological problems with the site."

German Hermann Tilke, the man behind the state-of-the-art facility at Sepang in Malaysia, is expected to be named as the designer of the circuit.

"I have my own design which is not yet approved," added Mahmoud, who said 2005 is the earliest date Egypt could host a race.

"It is the Sphinx shape and it looks like a very fast circuit but I don't know from a commercial and technical view if it's feasible."

Ecclestone is keen to add a Middle East venue to the championship calendar with Bahrain, Dubai and Lebanon the other candidates.

Mahmoud dismissed any fears over security in the region, especially since the events of last 11 September, pointing out that Prime Minister Tony Blair took a family holiday in Egypt last Christmas.

"We would have no problem with security," he said.

"Egypt has always been a neutral, peaceful country and we are peace-makers in the area so 11 September has not affected us."

See also:

22 Mar 02 |  Formula One
F1 fast-tracking to Russia
22 Mar 02 |  Formula One
Moscow set for 2004 Grand Prix
09 Aug 01 |  Formula One
Istanbul aims for F1 date
27 Jun 01 |  Formula One
F1 circuit planned for Beirut
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