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Belgian GP dropped

PARIS: There will be no Belgian Grand Prix this year. Motor racing's world governing body — the FIA — said on Wednesday it withdrew the race from the calendar but suggested it may be included in 2007.

Dropping the race, which was scheduled for September 17 at the historic Spa-Francorchamps course, means the 2006 season will feature 18 races instead of 19. The race has been in jeopardy since local race organisers filed for bankruptcy last year, forcing the regional government to cover mounting financial losses.

Belgian officials wanted Formula One's commercial director Bernie Ecclestone to take over as race promoter. In a brief statement, the FIA made no mention of the financial troubles.

Despite talk of reinstating the race, Ecclestone has suggested he would prefer cutting the calendar to 17 or 18 races for 2007.

Spa is one of Formula One's most venerated tracks, but attendance slipped last year to 50,000, half that of a decade ago.

2006 F-1 schedule: March 12: Bahrain GP, Sakhir; March 19: Malaysian GP, Kuala Lumpur; April 2: Australian GP, Melbourne; April 23: San Marino GP, Imola, Italy; May 7: European GP, Nuerburgring, Germany; May 14: Spanish GP, Barcelona; May 28: Monaco GP, Monte Carlo; June 11: British GP, Silverstone, England; June 25: Canadian GP, Montreal, Quebec; July 2: United States GP, Indianapolis, Indiana; July 16: French GP, Magny Cours; July 30: German GP, Hockenheim; Aug. 6: Hungarian GP, Budapest; Aug. 27: Turkish GP, Istanbul; Sept. 10: Italian GP, Monza; Oct. 1: Chinese GP, Shanghai; Oct. 8: Japanese GP, Suzuka; Oct. 22: Brazilian GP, Sao Paulo. — AP

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