Beijing joined the A1 Grand Prix fraternity yesterday as China became the first country to claim more than one slot on the annual calendar of the World Cup of Motorsport. The inaugural A1 GP Beijing will be held on November 3-5 after city authorities gave the green light to an audacious plan for a street race. China has already held one race on the A1 schedule, the GP Shanghai. 'Having two races in China annually indicates the championship's commitment to the country,' said Guan Yunke, deputy general manager of Beijing Haiyi, the owner of Team China and local promoter of the globe-trotting tour founded by Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum al-Maktoum last year. 'The sheikh was keen on the idea even before the first season started last year and now we have made that a reality.' The tour's distinctive format sees drivers competing in national teams, giving the competition a patriotic flavour. The race will be staged at Yizhuang, a suburban township 12 kilometres south of Beijing, where a 3.2km road section will be cordoned off for the three-day extravaganza. The centrepiece will be a 40-lap feature race on November 5. The Beijing event is the third leg of the 13-round 2006-07 GP season, which starts on October 1 at Park Zandvoort, the Netherlands. The tour, contested by 20 countries, will return next April for the stopover in Shanghai before the season ends at Brands Hatch, England. The inaugural A1 GP Shanghai concluded the 2005-06 A1 season in April. In addition to the new race, China has also upgraded its driver line-up. The country has added Franky Cheng Congfu, a former McLaren-Mercedes Formula One youth reserve driver, to its crew. He will join Jiang Tengyi and Ma Qinghua.