The prospect of a top international motorsport event being held on the streets of Dublin moved a step closer yesterday when Formula One architects Tilke Engineering visited the capital to investigate possible sites for a proposed A1GP event.
The Tilke group were invited to Ireland by the organisers of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, who are considering a number of prospective venues for the 2009-2010 season.
Dublin has emerged as a possible venue for the series following Ireland's victory in the World Cup, which was completed with a double win at Brands Hatch three weeks ago.
The A1 series has proved popular when it has visited new venues and the street race in Durban, South Africa, attracted huge crowds in the first three seasons.
Details of the Tilke Engineering visit are scant but it is believed the delegation visited the north city quays close to the IFSC and the Phoenix Park.
Tilke Engineering is famous in motor racing circles for creating many of the current Formula One circuits, including those in Malaysia, China, Turkey and Bahrain. Tilke also planned the layout of the floodlit street circuit used in last season's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix.
The visit is an early step in the process of evaluating street racing opportunities in Dublin, with Government officials and representatives of A1 Team Ireland involved in preliminary discussions with A1GP.
Ireland has a long tradition and worldwide reputation for road racing, which began with the Gordon Bennett Trophy races in Kildare in 1903 and which continues to this day with the annual Phoenix Park races.
The potential economic impact of a major international motor race in Dublin is significant. Studies suggest that the North West benefited to the tune of approximately €48m from the 2008 Rally Ireland WRC event.
Meanwhile, Alistair Jackson will be hoping for a change of fortunes with his new team, Andersen Racing, in the Freedom 100 US Indy Lights race on the support card to the Indianapolis 500. The 20-year-old endured a nightmare weekend on his oval debut at Kansas last month, cracking a small bone in his lower back in the first of two huge accidents that hastened his decision to leave Guthrie-Meyer Racing.
Elsewhere in the US, Peter Dempsey kept his dreams of glory in the Star Mazda series alive with a battling second place in last weekend's third round at Miller Motorsport in Utah.
The reigning Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year qualified fifth in his AIM Autosport car.
His second podium finish in succession means he is just five points off the lead in the series which is heading to New Jersey Motorsports Park on June 14.