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Michelin offered a full refund to U.S. Grand Prix ticket holders today, a gesture that also includes 20,000 tickets to next year’s race.

The French-based tire manufacturer announced its plans independent of Wednesday’s hearing in Paris where the seven Formula One teams that boycotted the June 19 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will answer to the sport’s governing body.

“Michelin deeply regrets that the public was deprived of an exciting race and therefore wishes to be the first among the different groups ... to make a strong gesture towards the spectators,” a statement read.

In Indianapolis, Speedway officials said they expect to administer the refund process. The track had just learned of Michelin’s announcement and has not put together a refund plan, said Speedway public relations director Ron Green.

"We were very encouraged by what we saw today, the fact that the fans are finally being acknowledged," Green said.

Michelin insisted it was not legally bound to offer the refund that will cost the company an estimated $10 million — plus about $2 million toward next year’s race. The average ticket price for the event was $100. Approximately 100,000 people attended the race.

There was no immediate word on how the refund process would work or who would receive the tickets to next year’s race.

All 14 Michelin-shod Formula One cars pulled off the track prior to the start of the USGP citing safety concerns with the Speedway’s fast 13th corner. Two Michelin tires came apart during the Friday practice, leading to accidents.

Michael Schumacher won the six-car race on Bridgestone tires.

Given Michelin’s decision, it is expected that the USGP will be held next year. Speedway president Joie Chitwood has noted the estimated $170 million economic impact that the city enjoys from hosting the event.

Green told reporters today that it was too early to discuss the status of the 2006 race.

The Federation Internationale de ‘Automobile (FIA) will gather the seven Michelin teams Wednesday in Paris. FIA president Max Mosley has said they were wrong not to compete as scheduled, and he has implied that they will be penalized.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050628/SPORTS01/50628009/0/NEWS01

Sal
 

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At least it's a show of good faith by Michelin. Unlike some other tire co's that denied, denied, and denied that their tires had a problem, to the point that it's almost put them out of business.
 

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Got to have respect for the folks that back it up.
 

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Mark Olson said:
At least it's a show of good faith by Michelin. Unlike some other tire co's that denied, denied, and denied that their tires had a problem, to the point that it's almost put them out of business.
To whom are you referring?
 
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