Shanghai inaugurated its brand new Formula 1 circuit yesterday, marking international auto racing's arrival in China and a new milestone in the nation's rise as an international sports venue. \nCompetition at the track, designed by Germany's Hermann Tilke, kicked off with the China Circuit Championship, which featured touring car and Formula Renault events. \nShanghai will also host the China Grand Prix, the first ever F1 event in the country, on Sept. 26. The race is the second new event added to this year's F1 season after Bahrain, and a major step into new Asian markets. \nAuto racing is still a novelty to most Chinese and organizers tried hard to imbue Sunday's event with all the noise and glamor associated with professional motor sports. \nDuring a break, the Ferrari F1 team's test driver Gerhard Berger zipped around the track in one of the team's reserve race cars and more than 60 of the company's low-slung yellow and red sports cars also did a lap. \nFormula Renault racers included Hong Kong singer Aaron Kwok, who declared the track "the best." \n"It's very hard, very exciting, especially the first turn," said Kwok, who blew a tire and failed to finish his race. \nIn the pit area, race cars revved their engines while female models roamed the concourse in skimpy outfits emblazoned with team logos. \n"Today is a huge landmark for auto racing in China and we will work our hardest to stage a successful F1 race,'' Chinese racing official Shi Tianshu said. \nNearly two years in the making, the Shanghai International Circuit rises out of former farmland in the Shanghai suburb of Jiading, home to the city's bustling car industry. \nIts 5.4km circuit features a punishing 14 turns, some on 8 percent grades. Seating areas can accommodate up to 200,000 people, about 1 percent of the population of greater Shanghai. \n"It's a very fast, very technical track," said Portuguese racer Rodolfo Avila, who won the morning's Formula Renault event. \nAvila said the track had a similar feel to Tilke's other works, including the Bahrain circuit that debuted this season and Malaysia's Sepang. But he suggested drivers would need considerable practice to attune themselves to Shanghai's turns. \n"The corners are very technical. It's not a very easy track to learn," said Avila, standing beside his knee-high speedster in the pit area. \nSeveral hundred spectators filled about half of the main glass and steel grandstand, which rises 10 stories above the track and is linked to the pit area by wedge shaped overhead passages. \nRace organizers reported no major hitches during the weekend's events, although guests had to be repeatedly shooed off of the pit lane.
A businessman who received millions of dollars for his work on Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympic Games has said that he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan’s bid. Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at the advertising agency Dentsu, was paid US$8.2 million by the committee that spearheaded Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, financial records showed. Takahashi said the work included lobbying International Olympic Committee (IOC) members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, and that he gave Diack gifts, including digital
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