Korean GP racks up R324m loss
LONG-TERM PAYOFF: The Korean GP may be bleeding funds but organisers are confident the race will have long-term benefits for the country.
SEOUL, South Korea - The Korean Grand Prix racked up substantial operating losses in October 2012, the third year running it has finished in the red, but organisers say the race will bring long-term benefits to the country.
The South Korean race, first run in 2010, returned operating losses of the Rand equivalent of R324-million, reported race organisers.
One of nine Asian races on the 20-race 2012 Formula 1 calendar, the South Korean event also lost an estimated R445-million in 2010.
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South Korean race organisers said: "It's hard to say what kind of impact the loss has on 2013. Although there are many concerns regarding the operating loss, the loss for a third straight year is only a short-term effect.
"In the long-term the F1 event will bring more benefits to the country. It will not only pave the way for South Korean car industries in the future but also help foster new industries."
The Yeongam circuit, 400km south of Seoul, has an initial contract of seven years, with a five-year option that could keep the race there until 2021.
The track has been plagued by problems, even before opening in 2010, when construction of the circuit was only just finished in time for its maiden race.
South Korean organisers have expressed dissatisfaction at the terms of their contract with F1, particularly over the cost of race-sanctioning fees.
However, their complaints have fallen on deaf ears with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. The last two Korean races have been won by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.
The problems facing South Korea's race contrast sharply to the success F1 enjoys in nearby Japan, where crowds of 120 000 fans are commonplace at Suzuka.
Suzuka press manager Yoshihisa Ueno told Reuters: "Compared to the boom years, things have become a little harder but we had 103 000 for race day in 2012."
"In 2011, with the (tsunami and nuclear) disaster, numbers were down but this year, operation-wise was a successful year."
The Japanese Grand Prix has been held at Suzuka almost exclusively since 1987, apart from 2007 and 2008 when it was held at Fuji Speedway.