Motorsport.com's Erica Southey interviewed Mr Piet Swanepoel, Managing Director of AA Kyalami Racing Circuit South Africa. Mr Piet Swanepoel cleared up the confusion about the rumours that part of AA Kyalami race track was sold off for development. The interview paints a totally different picture to what many were led to believe.
M.com: With so many opinions, rumours and news going around about a part of AA Kyalami having been sold off for development, what are the facts behind the story?
Piet Swanepoel: There is no truth in the rumours, and no portion of the AA Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit has been sold. The "Autosport" story, subsequently picked up by websites around the world, has caused us embarrassment and inconvenience. We have no idea where the story was sourced and it has no factual basis.
M.com: AA Kyalami was seen as the track in South Africa, and the only one suitable to host Formula One events until the recent appearance of Phakisa. what led to this sudden sad decision to sell off part of the track?
Piet Swanepoel: Whilst there is no truth in the rumours that any part of the Circuit has been sold off, it is certainly true that AA Kyalami is in fact the only circuit in Africa currently capable of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix. As far as we are aware Phakisa is not licensed to host any international motorsport events other than FIM sanctioned motorcycle events.
M.com: AA Kyalami used to hold Formula One Grand Prix and testing sessions. with the proposed changes to the track, how does this affect the future of F1 events?
Piet Swanepoel: AA Kyalami is still licensed to host Formula One testing, and has proven a popular venue with the teams who have tested here in the past. Unfortunately the September 11 tragedy in America has caused this year's (2002) Formula 1 testing to be held mainly in Europe for a number of reasons. We will certainly promote testing in 2003 and hope that the international situation will have stabilised by that stage.
M.com: With the AA Kyalami track's new development, the only other suitable alternative is Phakisa. reports are doing the rounds are that Phakisa isn't financially viable. A) Is this true? B) Will South African Formula one fans see a Grand Prix or testing session there?
Piet Swanepoel: A) I am afraid I am unable to comment in this regard, as the only Phakisa could fairly comment.
B) I personally doubt that we would see a Grand Prix or testing session at Phakisa, but hasten to add that this is a personal opinion.
M.com: Will there be a Formula one testing session at AA Kyalami for 2002?
Piet Swanepoel: No as I explained, we will unfortunately not see a test session at AA Kyalami this season which has been a great disappointment to ourselves and the tens of thousands of F1 fans who flocked to the Circuit over the past few years. We will however work very hard towards securing a test session again in 2003.