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Tammy O’Reilly

The ING Renault F1 team’s hugely successful visit to Johannesburg last year has prompted the Gauteng provincial government to form a partnership with the French Team to help raise the province’s international profile.

More than 80 000 spectators flocked to the Sandton area in July 2007 to catch a glimpse of Renault’s Formula 1 drivers racing through the CBD – exposing not only the population’s interest in the sport, but also the country’s ability to pull off such an event. It was also the first time since Renault began their road shows in 2003 that the spectacle was seen outside Europe, Russia and Japan.

And since professional motor racing generally attracts major international media attention, the province is hoping to jump on the bandwagon and use the opportunity to showcase its infrastructure, tourism attractions and sporting facilities.

Opportunities

Announcing the partnership on 22 January 2008, Finance and Economic Affairs MEC Paul Mashatile said the competitive sport sector had enormous potential to contribute towards increased tourism, job creation and higher economic growth.

“This partnership is an opportunity to showcase our provinces competitive advantages on the international stage. It will also help to strengthen our efforts to promote Gauteng as an investment and tourism destination and will also consolidate our position as the home of competitive sports.

“We are optimistic that this partnership will take us closer to the achievement of our strategic objective of increasing Gauteng's share of the tourism market to 55% of all international arrivals," he told journalists in Johannesburg.

Competition and workshops

The Renault F1 team will also host several workshops and other activities with youngsters aimed at raising the interest in motor sports and spotting talent.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the partnership will be the rollout of the F1 Dream Competition, which will give one Formula 1 fan the opportunity to drive the Renault F1 Team 2007 race car.

The partnership is set to stand for a year and fans can look forward to a second event through the streets of Johannesburg in July.

Renault already has a strong presence in Gauteng, and has recently announced that the new Renault Sandero will be produced in South Africa from 2009.

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