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The 2010 Dakar Rally could start in Budapest

Hungary’s government and the organizers of the Dakar Rally have signed a preliminary contract for the international race to begin in Budapest in January 2010, a Hungarian official said.

Hungary and the state-owned Hungaroring Sport Zrt signed the preliminary deal with the Amaury Sport Organization on Dec. 6, 2007, said István Újhelyi, state secretary of the regional development ministry. It hoped to complete the deal by March. “I believe we will be able to reach a final agreement during the next two months so I don’t think (another city) will take our place,” said Újhelyi, before leaving for more talks in Lisbon, Portugal, where the 2008 Dakar Rally starts Saturday. Újhelyi said the government had agreed to guarantee the €2.2 million license fee for rally organizers and expected to recoup any expenditures from increased tourism revenues. “We are handling this as a sport and a tourism event,” Ujhelyi said. “It will be a huge media event, which will promote Hungary.” - he added. A study commissioned by Hungaroring Sport Zrt - which organizes Hungary’s annual Formula One race - concluded that up to 200,000 tourists could attend. (Gazdasági Rádió, princegeorgecitizen)