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Hopes for Bahrain Grand Prix to be part of F1 season again

Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Bahrain's latest motor racing champion, says the nation is gripped by the sport.

New father Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Bahrain's latest motor racing champion, is hoping to see the rebirth of Formula One in the Kingdom so aspiring young drivers can follow their dreams.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled this year due to unrest in the country and Sheikh Salman wants an early return.

"I just hope that F1 comes back to Bahrain soon," said Sheikh Salman, who last season won the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

"We've become used to having the F1 circus in town. It's very important for Bahrain and we just need to have the conditions that make it possible for it to return.

"There's a great passion for cars and for motorsport in Bahrain. We love racing at every level, particularly F1. Over the last few years youngsters have grown up here dreaming of being the next [Fernando] Alonso or [Lewis] Hamilton."

After capturing the Porsche GT3 Cup, Sheikh Salman is determined to keep improving as a driver, although a familiar rival will be waiting when the 2011/12 series starts alongside November's Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal pushed him all the way before the Bahraini wrapped up the championship in the final round at Dubai Autodrome in April, and the Saudi Arabia driver is gaining more experience in Europe this summer.

"Of course I saw that he won an FIA GT race in Portugal and that he also competed in the Le Mans 24 hours," Sheikh Salman said. "The win was a very special achievement for Abdulaziz, who is an ambassador for this region."

Sheikh Salman recently became a father for the first time, naming his new born son Rashid after his father. "I might be losing some sleep at nights but overall I'm very happy," he said. "A lot of other drivers find a balance between racing and family life so that won't be a problem."

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