Confident Force India heads to Singapore for first ever night race

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New Delhi, Sep 22 (UNI) With a strong Indian influence, the Force India is keenly looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix which will feature the first ever Formula One night race but its owner Vijay Mallya asserted that his team drivers needed to be more competitive.

''With the large Indian population and the proximity to India, it's something that we very much look forward to. For the companies that sponsor the car, and others as well, Singapore is going to be a big, big venue,'' Mallya said.

The event will be held in the city's marina area on a 5.067km temporary street circuit and the race will start at 2000 hrs on October 26 well after sunset.

Practice and qualifying will also be run under the lights, the first time F1 cars will be seen running during the hours of darkness.

While the Force India drivers - Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella have failed to secure a single point this season, the two are still considered to be among the better drivers in rain.

''Definitely, it could be a lottery. I can tell you is that it rains every night. You don't have to pray for rain, it just comes! People say that rain suits Force India, but rain has the same effect on everybody.

It doesn't give a special opportunity for us alone. If it's a challenge for other drivers, it's equally a challenge for our drivers,'' Mallya said.

The liquor baron said he was happy that Force India finally managed to reach the Q2 at the Italian Grand Prix but added that it could have came a little earlier.

''It was a brilliant feeling to have finally achieved one of our targets, and to have done so in difficult conditions. The whole team had a great push just by seeing the car up there in P12.

''It just goes to show that if you get the strategy right and the drivers are motivated and hungry you can achieve an unexpected result. I would have liked to get into Q2 a little earlier in the season, but it was a superb result all round and you cannot take that away,'' Mallya conceded.

He further noted that he was closely monitoring the progress of Force India and the 2009 season will be the real test for his team.

''I've been measuring the progress of this team. We need to be more competitive, but 2009 will be the real test. I've always said that we will take baby steps in 2008, such as getting into Q2, and I think we have managed to do that.

''We are racing now, we are beating the Hondas and the Williams.

In 2009 we have no excuses, I know that, and I will make sure that we perform,'' Mallya affirmed.

Meanwhile, Force India driver Fisichella was confident of a good show in Singapore especially after a good event in Monza.

''Throughout the weekend we were strong and it was a nice feeling to finally make it to Q2. I was disappointed we couldn't make more of the race as I think we could have finished well, but we were competitive throughout the weekend so we have to be positive from this point of view,'' Fisichella said.

UNI RAR PY HT1924

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