Organizer defends proposed Greek F1 track
By Graham Wood
ATHENS (Reuters) - The man leading controversial plans to construct a potential Formula One racetrack in debt-stricken Greece has defended the bold project and says "my life's work" will benefit rather than burden the country.
Last month, Greece's Ministry of Development confirmed it had unblocked a European funding subsidy of 29.46 million euros ($37.84 million) for the construction of an international-standard racetrack that could be used for staging Formula One - the top class of world motor car racing.
Of that subsidy, 15 percent will be covered by the Greek government and parliament will vote on whether to approve the move on November 15.
The track will be built in Chalandritsa near the western port city of Patras and the ministry has set a total estimated cost of 94.6 million euros, 70 percent of which is to be funded by private investment company Racetrack Patras.
"Critics in the foreign media believe that the state will subsidize the circuit running cost, this is a false idea," Evangelos Floratos, who heads Racetrack Patras, told Reuters.
Floratos will oversee the project to build the track, which he hopes can act as a testing centre for F1 teams while Greece waits with a multitude of other nations to try to secure a lucrative annual F1 race.
"This project belongs to the private sector, it does not expect state funding for its operational costs. It is also wrongly assumed that we are aiming at organizing a Formula 1 race, which is an event often subsidized by the national government. This is not our primary goal," he said.
"Let's be clear about this, we are not prepared to pay to be added to the calendar at this point. It is something we will think about at a later date if and when someone - in government or the private sector - wishes to subsidize it." Continued...