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F1 ticket sales jump, but seats still available as race day nears

LOWER prices apparently offset the effects of a gloomy economy to boost ticket sales for this year's Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Jiading District this weekend.

Corporate purchases were down, however, by about 10 percent for this year's event, according to organizer Shanghai Juss Corp. That shortfall was more than made up by a rise in individual buyers. Though Juss said overall sales are running higher than last year, it did not provide a figure. But it did say that tickets were still available.

Nearly 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the event, which begins tomorrow with practice runs, continues on Saturday with time trials and wraps up on Sunday with the race itself. Some 60,000 fans are expected to be in the stands on race day, including a large contingent from Taiwan benefiting from the relaxation of travel policies.

In the past, many Taiwanese fans had to go to Japan or Singapore to watch F1 races instead of Shanghai. But the advent of direct flights across the Taiwan Strait has cut the travel time between Shanghai and the island from three hours to 90 minutes.

Taiwan's Wantwant Corp signed a deal with Juss to promote the Shanghai race, and more than 300 Taiwan F1 fans will arrive in Shanghai tomorrow or the day after, Juss said.

In response to complaints about expensive food at the racetrack, the organizer will move the Taiwan Temple Fair to the circuit for the first time to provide Taiwan snacks at reasonable prices.

The price of a three-day ticket package for the most desirable seating areas dropped from 2,580 yuan (US$378) to 1,980 yuan this year. Single-day tickets for the prime viewing spots were also cheaper. Sunday tickets for those areas dropped from 1,980 to 1,560 yuan, Saturday tickets from 980 to 760 yuan and Friday tickets from 480 to 260 yuan.

Fans who still want to buy a ticket can call the local F1 hotlines at 400-820-1913, 021-52372156 or 52372157. English service is available.

Traffic authorities advise race-goers to avoid driving and to use the event's shuttle bus service.

Ticket holders are particularly encouraged to avoid the Shanghai-Jiading Expressway, which has experienced a sharp increase in traffic since toll rates were lowered.

Four shuttle buses will be available free for ticket holders throughout the event. The shuttles leave between 8am and noon from downtown spots and pick up at the track between 2pm and 6:30pm.

Shuttle Route 1 will operate between the No. 7 entrance to the Shanghai Stadium and the race site's No. 13 parking lot. Route 2 links the Shanghai International Gymnastic Center and the No. 11 parking lot. Route 3 operates between Pudong Yuanshen Stadium's No. 6 entrance and the No. 8 parking lot, and Route 4 runs between Hongkou Stadium and No. 14 parking lot.


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