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200K EXPECTED FOR BIGGER, BETTER CLIPSAL 500

Organisers of V8 Supercar racing's spectacular opening ceremony, the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, are expecting a new-record crowd in excess of 200,000 when the event expands to a four-day carnival next year.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann officially launched the 2003 Clipsal 500 in Adelaide yesterday.

The Konica V8 Supercar feeder series is to open its season in Adelaide also, supporting the major league series for the first time.

Ten racing categories would feature in all, Mr Rann said, including saloon cars, historic Group N touring cars and a full production car program.

By night, three concerts are planned, with Sunday night's gala headlined by INXS.

"I'm delighted that this year's event was such a success that organisers have decided to include an extra day of motorsport in 2003," Mr Rann said.

"Major events are an important part of our tourism calendar and the Clipsal 500 Adelaide is the biggest annual event we hold."

AVESCO Chairman Tony Cochrane said the inclusion of the Konica Series would add to the overall spectacle of the event.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the Konica drivers to compete in front of a crowd of more than 200,000 people and provide great exposure for their sponsors," he said.

The Konica Series cars are to share the spotlight on two occasions next year, in Adelaide and at Sydney's Eastern Creek, on an expanded six-round schedule.

Mr Rann said the Clipsal 500 contributed more than $16 million to the state's economy this year alone.

10,000 tickets have already been sold to next year's event, with another 2000 additional grandstand seats to be built along pitlane.

The 2003 Clipsal 500 opens the new-look V8 Supercar championship on March 20-23.

--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)

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