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Sao Paulo to sell Interlagos F1 track, Bernie Ecclestone may bid

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The mayor of Sao Paulo has confirmed the city will sell off the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos, the circuit that hosts Brazil’s annual Formula 1 race.

Interlagos has welcomed F1 since 1990, but concerns were raised about the future of the race last fall amid a lack of progress in planned development work.

The track issued a statement last year saying it wanted a five-year extension for its Brazilian Grand Prix contract, which is due to expire in 2020.

Speaking to Reuters, Sao Paulo major Joao Doria confirmed the city was aiming to privatize the track as part of a bid to ease financial uncertainty being faced in the region following a heavy national recession.

“The privatization of the track is the guarantee of the continuity of Formula 1,” Doria said.

“I understand that Formula 1 is important but with private money, not public money.

“It’s perfectly possible for it to keep running with private money as a private track.”

One possible buyer could be ex-F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, whose 40-year reign of the sport came to a close in January following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the series.

Ecclestone has previously expressed an interest in buying tracks, such as the Nürburgring in Germany, and has close ties with Brazil through his wife, Fabiana, as well as owning a ranch in the country.

The 86-year-old confirmed he is considering an offer for Interlagos, telling Reuters: “I haven’t [said] ‘yes, I’m going to buy’ or ‘no, I ain’t going to buy’. We’ll wait and see.”

“He showed interest. He’s going to participate in the auction for the track,” Doria added.

“I have the impression that international funds are going to take part as well.

“I have no doubt that we will sell the Interlagos track, and sell it well.”

This year’s Brazilian Grand Prix will act as the penultimate round of the 2017 F1 season, taking place on November 12.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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