Valencia street race draws EU scrutiny

After looking to be the next breakout star of Spanish Formula One, the European Grand Prix to be held on a Valencia street course in late August, a race whose tickets sold out before those of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, is under...

After looking to be the next breakout star of Spanish Formula One, the European Grand Prix to be held on a Valencia street course in late August, a race whose tickets sold out before those of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, is under investigation by the European Union.

Stavros Dimas, the EU environmental commissioner, confirmed Tuesday to the Spanish news agency EFE that an investigation will be conducted. Complaints were earlier lodged by environmental group Formula Verda with the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) David Hammerstein, Raul Romeva and Monica Frassoni of the Green Party pressed for an investigation.

The environmentalists assert that impact studies were not carried out correctly, that noise studies were not distributed as mandated, and that maps of the course were not correctly filed. Formula Verda complained part of the space needed to stage the race was taken from a protected area. Bidding procedures are also under scrutiny, Dimas said.

The Valencian government could face penalties for failing to comply with the European Directive on Pollution Acoustics. The race is a public project.

Formula One's commercial rights czar Bernie Ecclestone signed a deal June 1, 2007, to stage a street race extending to the waterfront in the East Coast port city of Valencia. The first race in a seven-year contract is scheduled for Aug. 24. Pressure on ticket outlets began as soon as tickets went on sale April 1. Spaniards took in long queues in Valencia and Internet allotments were gone within an hour of becoming available. Organizers declared the event a sellout April 11.

A circuit website Tuesday ran a headline proclaiming the street circuit is illegal.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Bernie Ecclestone