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Imola hopeful of regaining Grand Prix slot

August 30, 2006 17:07 IST

San Marino Grand Prix organisers remained hopeful on Tuesday that they would have a Formula One race next year despite it being left off the 2007 calendar.

"We're not dead yet," the mayor of Imola, Massimo Marchignoli, told Italian news agency ANSA.

The 17-race calendar issued by International Automobile Federation had just one round pencilled in for Italy, on the September date usually reserved for Monza.

There was however a gap of nearly a month between Bahrain on April 15 and Spain on May 13 where Imola, the circuit closest to Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, would normally fit.

"Certainly, the appearance of this FIA document is unexpected," said Marchignoli.

"Only a few days ago, (Formula One supremo Bernie) Ecclestone told the president of Sagis (the company that runs Imola) that the race would be held on April 29."

The renovation of Imola's pits and paddock, which Ecclestone had demanded as a condition of retaining the circuit, would begin shortly, said Marchignoli.

"I've noticed that there's a month-long hole in the calendar. Everything seems to be telling us: 'Imola, you've still got a place if you get things sorted out'," he added.

His optimism was shared by San Marino's Minister for Tourism and Sport, Paride Andreoli.  

"It's a good sign that, as the provisional calendar shows, there are no grands prix between the middle of April and the middle of May," he said.

SAGIS president Federico Bendinelli said Ecclestone had promised to reinstate Imola at a FIA meeting on October 18 provided the renovations met with the governing body's approval.

"For me, nothing has changed. Ecclestone told me that the grand prix would be included in the calendar on October 18 if we met the agreed conditions, in particular as regarded the building work," he said.

"I don't think he wants to go back on his word."

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