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On-schedule Indian GP to change India's image
Indian Grand Prix organisers are promising a Diwali festival-inspired debut race in October.
Sepang: Indian Grand Prix organisers are promising a Diwali festival-inspired debut race in October to showcase the country's ability to host international sporting events after a chaotic Commonwealth Games last year.
Pictures of dirty rooms in the athletes' village and a collapsed bridge by the main stadium remain overriding images of the Games held in New Delhi in last October despite a late push by organisers to ensure the events ran smoothly.
Indian organisation was in the spotlight again at the recently concluded cricket World Cup, where the iconic Eden Gardens ground in Kolkata was stripped of key matches because of the failure to finish upgrades in time.
However, Sameer Gaur, the CEO and managing director of JPSI Sports, builders of the Formula One track outside of Delhi, said those problems will not dampen his company's plans.
"What is good in our situation is that everything is being handled by one party at one location," Gaur told Reuters in the Malaysian Grand Prix paddock on Friday.
"The Commonwealth (Games) people had to deal with 10 different locations, with 10 different agencies and 10 different governments: the state government, the central government, but we are one company, one location - so decision-making, logistically, is easier for us."
Gaur showed Reuters pictures of construction at the track in Greater Noida, some 40 km south of New Delhi, and promised all work would be completed before a July inspection by FIA officials ahead of the October 30 race.
"I would be worried if I had works to do but I have completed that. I have my mechanical, plumbing and finishing works to do," Gaur said.
Gaur added that building the 130,000 capacity circuit had be one of the easier projects he has worked on.
"I did a project where nobody, not even the army, could go, only mountains; yet I made a tunnel of 10 kilometers, so when I talk about this, modestly, (its easy)."
Alongside the $400 million track, the company is also building a connecting motorway out of the Indian capital and a 100,000 capacity cricket stadium, with plans for a similarly impressive soccer or hockey facility to follow.
With the annual Indian monsoon season expected in July-September, Gaur said that the track had been completed and only the asphalt needed to be put down, set for completion in June.
"When it starts raining in July, August, September, I am inside working. So I have not a problem about the monsoons but the problem with the Commonwealth (Games) was they were still doing major works, putting down concrete and it is not possible when the rains come.
"But I have completed all that; I am already onto my finishing works, so everything is going to be okay."
Gaur hopes the track will be in use for 250 days a year and that they had already been in talks with MotoGP organisers about staging a leg of the series.
He also rejected the suggestion that the timing of the race maybe an issue with many locals going on holiday as the festival of Diwali takes place then or fans being drawn to the cricket instead as India usually play home Tests at that time.
"Cricket will not be a problem because everybody knows cricket has a different following but this is something new and exciting.
"A hundred and twenty thousand people in India does not take anything (effort) - people coming is not a problem because they will want something different; they want to go as there is nothing else like this."
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