Motor Racing: Fisa awards second grand prix to Japan

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THE commercial and technical importance of Japan to Formula One was recognised yesterday by Fisa, motor sport's world governing body, when it added a second Japanese Grand Prix to the calendar for 1993.

A race will be held at Autopolis, the futuristic city-round-a-circuit, on 4 April - when the teams return from the season-openers in the southern hemisphere - as well as the usual penultimate grand prix at Suzuka on 24 October.

The season still comprises 16 races, Fisa having dropped the notoriously bumpy and smog-bound track in Mexico City.

Japan has made a rapid impact on Formula One, notwithstanding the withdrawal this year of Honda, whose engines took Williams and McLaren to five consecutive world championships from 1987 to 1991. Until 1987, when Suzuka became a regular stop on the tour, the Japanese Grand Prix had been held only twice, in 1976 and 1977.

It was in pouring rain at the Mount Fuji circuit in 1976 that James Hunt became Britain's last world champion before Nigel Mansell won the title this year.

Fisa confirmed in Paris yesterday that the Sportscar World Championship had been abandoned; that its president, Max Mosley, had been unanimously re-elected for a four-year term; and that all Formula One cars would have to use fuel similar to commercially available petrol from next season.

Mosley said Fisa was pinning its hopes on a new GT Formula series to replace the sportscar events. He said GT races would be held in Daytona and Sebring, in the United States, next season with a view to starting up a world championship in 1994.

Frank Williams, the principal of the 1992 world championship-winning team, said yesterday that British drivers were well in the running to replace Mansell.

'I know we keep messing about but the choice just isn't black and white,' he said. 'Martin Brundle and Damon Hill were uppermost in my mind a few days ago but we are still considering a number of drivers.'

1993 GRAND PRIX CALENDAR: 28 Feb: South Africa (Kyalami); 14 March: Brazil (Interlagos, Sao Paulo); 4 April: Japan I (Autopolis); 25 April: San Marino (Imola); 9 May: Spain (Barcelona); 23 May: Monaco; 13 June: Canada (Montreal); 4 July: France (Magny-Cours); 11 July: Britain (Silverstone); 25 July: Germany (Hockenheim); 15 Aug: Hungary (Budapest); 29 Aug: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps); 12 Sept: Italy (Monza); 26 Sept: Portugal (Estoril); 24 Oct: Japan II (Suzuka); 7 Nov: Australia (Adelaide).