President Mbeki Unveils A1 Grand Prix South Africa Car
Johannesburg, 1st November. South African motorsport has entered a new chapter with the official launch of the A1 Grand Prix South African team. The launch in Johannesburg today was attended by President Mbeki who unveiled the car in its South African livery.
A month ago in London South Africa's participation in the unique one make series was announced along with that of China, Lebanon, Pakistan, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Now a total of nine countries have been announced. The new additions to the A1 Grand Prix grid are Australia, Canada and Malaysia. More are due to be announced at the next national team launch, which will be in Lebanon.
The series founder and CEO, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum, presented the South African seat holder, former freedom fighter and businessman extraordinaire, Tokyo Sexwale, with the car, and they were honoured that President Mbeki had agreed to attend the launch, which showed strong Government support.
"South Africa has a rich motorsport history and I am delighted it is entering the sport again. It is a great opportunity for South Africans to showcase their country and sponsors in the World Cup of Motorsport. It is a country that loves all sporting events and I am certain as a nation it will be one of the most enthusiastic in supporting its A1 Grand Prix team and driver. From the moment we announced our series earlier in the year it was obvious one of the first seats to be snapped up was going to be South Africa knowing its great history in motorsport," said Sheikh Maktoum.
Tokyo Sexwale, who announced in London that the car would carry two numbers - 46664, which was Nelson Mandela's prison number, and 2010, the year South Africa will host the World Cup - commented: "A1 Grand Prix is effectively the world cup of motor racing. It will create a new patriotic edge to the sport, and add a new dimension to one of the most popular sports in the world. We are proud and pleased that there will be a South African entrant in this exciting global event. We fully subscribe to the need to spread motor racing away from its traditional European and North American roots and into the developing world. Welcome to the world of Motortainment."
A1 Grand Prix brings together the worlds of business and motorsport and the people heading the three new teams announced in South African mirror that. For Australia it is 1980 F1 World Champion, Alan Jones, and successful Formula 3 team boss, Alan Docking. For Canada it is the Chairman of Regent Mercantile Bancorp, J Jay Laski. For Malaysia it is Malaysia's only Formula 1 and USA Champ Car Series driver, Alex Yoong. While Portugal had already announced its participation, the identities of the major sporting stars representing its seat holders was still a secret. These have now been revealed at the South African launch and are world class footballers Luis Figo and Carlos Queiros.