Azerbaijan has "confirmed that the country will host its first Formula One grand prix next year," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The capital city of Baku will "provide the stage for a race in new territory for the sport." With Russia lined up for a grand prix in October, F1 "continues its surge" eastward into "former Soviet regions." Azerbaijan is "one of the most ambitious countries in the area with a series of major international sporting events scheduled, all paid for by the country's oil riches." Azerbaijan sports ministry spokesperson Samya Mammadova "gave the first confirmation from Baku." She said, "Formula One will be held in Baku in autumn 2015." That puts "F1 on schedule for at least 20 races next season" (LONDON TIMES, 5/1). The AP's James Ellingworth reported Mammadova said that the race will be held "shortly after Baku hosts the inaugural European Games multi-sports event in June." Baku has "hosted sports-car racing on a street circuit every year" since '12. Mammadova "declined to say whether the same city-center track would be used for the F1 race, saying only that the venue would be announced later this month." Azerbaijan has been keen to "establish itself as a sporting power in recent years." The country submitted bids to host the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics but was "eliminated on both occasions before the final vote" (AP, 5/1). In Baku, Nigar Orujova reported the race "may be called the 'European Grand Prix' and will take place on the streets of Baku." Baku has recently gained "some experiences in holding large-scale racing competitions." The city hosted the FIA GT Series season finale on Nov. 22-24, 2013. Baku also "hosted its first racing Baku City Challenge" in Oct. '12 (AZERNEWS, 4/30).
Events and Attractions
Red Bull will launch its first world race to benefit spinal cord research with more than 45,000 registered runners from across the globe set to take part in the event. The Wings for Life World Run will begin Sunday at 10am UTC and take place in 34 race locations in 32 countries. In the U.S., Universal Sports will broadcast the event from 6am-noon ET, with 70-80% of its coverage focused on the three U.S. locations: Sunrise, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Santa Clarita, Calif. During the broadcast, highlights from int’l race locations will be woven in to show the status of male and female race leaders from across the globe.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: The race boasts a unique format that features a moving finish line in the form of a “Catcher Car.” Thirty minutes after the start of each race, a Catcher Car will be deployed to “chase” runners. Starting at 9.3 mph, the car will increase in speed each hour, ending the race of each runner it catches. The race officially ends when the last male and female runners are finally passed by the Catcher Car. Because the int’l event will declare an overall male and female winner, each race’s Catcher Car is synched via GPS. Florida Wings for Life World Run Race Dir Zoltan Polgar said he expects a global race winner to be declared by noon.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Polgar told SBD Global the concept of no set race distance sets the event apart from other races and echoes Red Bull’s innovative approach to sports. “It’s Red Bull. They don’t do anything normal. They put a man in space and say, ‘Let’s jump you out and we won’t call NASA,’” Polgar said. “Not having a set distance and allowing people to set their own distances … makes it very unique for runners from a participation standpoint because they always want to do something different.”
FAMILIAR FACES: Race participants include former F1 driver Mark Webber, F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. All race registration fees will go toward spinal cord research. In addition to Universal Sports’ broadcast, races will be streamed live at wingsforlifeworldrun.com.
Scottish Premiership sides Dundee United, Hamilton and Falkirk will "battle it out for automatic promotion to the top flight," with the trophy for the first SPFL Championship to be "delivered by chopper" on Saturday. It is "so tight at the top" that SPFL Operations Dir Iain Blair "will be standing by at Cumbernauld Airport with the trophy" (SCOTSMAN, 5/1). ... MMA fighters Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre are "unlikely to be coming to Singapore after all." Nine days after organizers LAMC Productions and Ch'i Life Studio Asia "first announced a May 31 seminar and fan session with the MMA trio, they were forced to distance themselves from the event, which was purportedly part of an 11-city world tour." The organizers said in a joint statement, "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we will not be promoting this event" (STRAITS TIMES, 5/1). ... The Indian Premier League "undeniably got a lot right" over the past two weeks -- "capacity crowds at all venues with fans, old and new to the game, getting into the spirit of things." But "if you were looking to get a replica shirt or some official merchandise to commemorate your IPL experience, then, sadly, it was a case of tough luck as there was nothing available" (THE NATIONAL, 4/30). ... The Qatar Arabian World Cup is to "receive a prize money boost" of more than 40% to create the world's first €1M ($1.4M) race for "Pure Bred Arabians." The race is "run on the same programme as the Qatar Prix de l' Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in the first weekend in October" (THE PENINSULA, 5/1).