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Hanoi Grand Prix set to join Formula One circuit in 2020

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) A Grand Prix in Hanoi will be added to the Formula One calendar in 2020 as part of the sport’s expansion in Asia.

F1 chairman Chase Carey and Nguyen Duc Chung, the Mayor of Hanoi, made the announcement on Wednesday.

A 5.556-kilometer circuit will be constructed near the national stadium using a combination of existing infrastructure and roads to be built in a new residential area on the edge of the city center.

“The race track in Hanoi is unique in the world with half of it being on existing streets and the other half to be built,” Chung said. “The length and turns of this track will bring a lot of excitement. According to designers, it will be the most exciting track in the world.”

Chung said the GP would be funded by private enterprise headed by Vingroup, the country’s largest private conglomerate.

“Hosting Formula 1 races in Hanoi will open us many opportunities for business, tourist development (and) advertise the image of Vietnam and image of Hanoi to the world,” Chung said. “And at the same time create new a playing ground and experiences for people of all walks of life.”

Formula One has 21 races listed on a tentative calendar for 2019.

The 2018 season has two races to go, in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi.

Carey came into F1 intent on expansion and another event in Asia is a major part of the strategy.

“The energy of this country is incredible. The city of Hanoi I think is increasingly one that’s capturing the world’s imagination,” he said. “Asia is clearly very important overall to our future.

“It’s really the driving engine of the world’s future, so as we look to grow this sport in Asia, we want to be in a country we really think it’s going to be the engine of growth, the engine of excitement, so we think Vietnam really captures people’s interests.”

The race in Vietnam will join other stops in the Asia-Pacific region that include Japan, China, Singapore, and Australia. F1 had a regular stop in Malaysia from 1999-2017 and also had brief forays into India and South Korea.

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Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”