Le Mans, Spa and Bol will go ahead in 2002

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Thousands of British race fans will be delighted to hear that endurance racing’s big three 24-hour races are set to go ahead – even though they have been axed from the official world championship.

Le Mans, the Bol d’Or at Magny Cours and Spa Francorchamps will be run as independent events after a dispute between the circuit owners and Octagon Motorsports meant that none of the events appeared on the calendar for the new-look championship.

The world series will, however, feature three 200-mile races – including the Silverstone 200 on May 19 – but none of which are proving popular with endurance purists.

Russell Benney, boss of Phase One Endurance, said: " We’ve not finalised our plans but we’ll probably continue to do the 24-hour races and selected world rounds. The 200-mile races don’t really appeal to us as it isn’t really endurance racing and don’t require the same teamwork skills required in the 24-hour events. "

Vittorio Gargiulo of Octagon said: " We are making the championship a truly international affair, attracting interest from Australia, America and Sweden. That concept is difficult to take in France, where endurance racing is seen as being their preserve. We do not want a fight but we also want to get out of the French ‘cage’. Our championship is still alive and stronger than last year. "

The Le Mans 24-hour will take place two weeks before the first championship race on the weekend of April 13-14, with Spa taking place on July 13-14. A date has yet to be set for the Bol d’Or at Magny Cours, although an announcement is expected early next year.

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By Anonymous