IndyCar season-opening race in Brazil canceled

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The IndyCar Series opener scheduled for March in Brazil's capital was canceled on Thursday.
   
The television network promoting the event released a brief statement saying the decision was made "unilaterally" by the local government in Brasilia.
   
Band TV did not immediately provide any additional details, but said the decision was "hasty" by the local government.
   
"Band will inform in the next few days how those who have bought tickets will be reimbursed. The network laments this hasty decision," the statement said.

2015 IndyCar Series schedule
   
IndyCar had said this week that five of the 10 seating sections for the March 8 race at the Nelson Piquet Autodromo had already sold out.
   
"This comes as a great disappointment," IndyCar said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We will have further comment when we have had the opportunity to talk with all of our partners and the authorities in Brazil."
   
The government agency organizing the event in Brasilia could not be immediately reached for comment.
   
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves said he was "caught by surprise" by the announcement.
   
"To my knowledge, everything was OK," the Brazilian said in a statement. "It's a shame that the race has been canceled. I hope that a solution to this problem can be found in the future. I'm sorry for the fans, but things like these are beyond the control of teams and drivers."
   
On Tuesday, fellow driver Tony Kanaan said he had high expectations for his home race.
   
"To me, it means a lot," the 2013 Indy 500 champion said. "All my friends are there, it's a dream come true again."
   
Band was the Brazilian organizer and promoter of the race in Sao Paulo from 2010-2013. The network was not able to secure the event in 2014 because of financial problems, but it reached a partnership with the government in Brasilia to secure the series' return this year.
   
The now-defunct CART series was in Brazil from 1996-2000, with a race on an oval track in Rio de Janeiro. The race in Sao Paulo was held on a street course, and the one in Brasilia was going to take place on a permanent circuit. Work at the autodrome was almost finalized, according to organizers.
   
The contract for the race in Brasilia was to run until 2019.
   
Motorsport is popular in Brazil, and IndyCar and Formula One attract good crowds. The F1 race takes place at the Interlagos track in Sao Paulo.
   
Brasilia also was scheduled to host a MotoGP race in 2015 but the event was canceled last year.

The IndyCar season will now open in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 29.

IndyCar statement

"Today's announcement by BAND that the March 8 INDYCAR race in Brasilia was canceled was both unexpected and disappointing. INDYCAR had received every indication that the race was already a success: Two-thirds of the seats available for the event had already been sold; a title sponsor for the event (ITAIPAVA) was announced yesterday; hospitality was sold out; and track construction was progressing and scheduled to be complete in time for the event. Although we have not received formal confirmation from our partners in Brazil regarding the cancellation, economically INDYCAR is protected and the paddock is protected from such action."

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