New Jersey’s 2014 fate to be decided next week

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The organizers of the proposed Grand Prix of America in New Jersey will learn of the event’s fate next week when the World Motor Sport Council meets to finalize the calendar for the 2014 Formula One season.

After initially planning to find a place on the 2013 schedule, the promoters of the race in New Jersey – led by Leo Hindery Jr. – have remained defiant that the race will go ahead despite much speculation and doubt. Holding a race in the NY/NJ area has been a long-term desire of Bernie Ecclestone, and the last ‘official’ word from the FIA was that the race had indeed been granted a berth on the 2014 calendar with the race planned for June 1. However, its placement between the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix appeared to create a logistical nightmare for the teams who claimed that it was not possible to do all three races in the space of three weeks.

Therefore, when a fresh draft calendar – lacking approval from the FIA – began to circulate lacking the races in New Jersey, Mexico and Korea, it came as little surprise. As a result, 2014 looked set to be a 19-race season much like 2013 with new events in Russia and Austria replacing Korea and India.

However, a number of officials from the Grand Prix of America headed to Austin for negotiations, meaning that the fire of the race was still burning brightly.

Therefore, we will have to wait until the World Motor Sport Council confirms the final schedule when it meets next week, but should New Jersey not be listed, it is by no means the end for the race. Ecclestone’s desire for a second grand prix in the US is as strong as ever, and with widespread support for the race, the focus of the team in New Jersey will be to find a place on the 2015 calendar should 2014 not prove to be possible.

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.