Sepang International Circuit not just about F1, says chairman

Apr 8, 2017
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg of Germany in action during first practice last year. File photo by Reuters

Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chairman Azman Yahya said the circuit is not just meant for hosting the Formula One (F1) race.

As such, Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd will promote more motorsports events.

“Our partnership with F1 has been instrumental in the development of Sepang, the Malaysian motorsports industry and sports tourism sector.

“F1 played a key role in SIC’s origin. We have grown and expanded far beyond that in the past two decades,” said Azman commenting on the announcement made by the prime minister, in a press conference on F1 Malaysia Grand Prix and SIC development plans yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Razak in a statement announced that Malaysia will no longer host the F1 race next year after the government agreed to terminate the organising contract.

Najib said the contract had to be terminated following sharp decreasing returns to the country compared to the organising cost.

Azman said discussion about the matter was done since last year.

“We went through it in detail. We did the cost analysis, studied the pros and cons.

“The termination is done on mutual agreement between SIC and FOM (Formula One Management). The contract allows early termination with mutual agreement. So, both parties have agreed.”

Azman said no penalties handed to Malaysia over the termination issue. Malaysia has hosted the F1 Grand Prix for 19 years since inaugural race in 1999.

The funding for hosting F1 race could be channeled for SIC development programme and upgrading the facilities within the circuit.

“Among SIC’s immediate development plan is to install lighting system for night racing. We plan to installl LED floodlight averaging 50 lux to enable an expand usage of track to night time.

“It is not the kind of F1 lighting, not for international racing but it will be bright enough to light the whole circuit. It is suitable for track day event, tyre testing and others,” he said.

The other immediate development plan are track configuration (full track, north track, south track, south west track and north east track), Off-Road Circuit and Driving Experience Centre.

He added the SIC also has a comprehensive plan to transform the circuit into an intergrated, multi-faceted edutainment hub over the next five years.

“With these foundations in place, we will continue to be an important venue for motorsports for many years to come,” said Azman.

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said SIC will not become a ‘white elephant’ as it
will continue to host the popular MotoGP race.

“I have talked to the prime minister and the SIC management about bringing another race of international standard such as the GT and its equivalent which have many fans,” he told reporters after the launch of Kuala Lumpur 2017 Torch Run (KL2017) yesterday.

Khairy said at one time, Malaysia was the only Grand Prix race in Asia other han Japan but now there are Singapore, China and the Arab countries.

Termination of the F1 contract allows the government to focus on motorsport development programmes at grassroots level and use part of the allocation for organising the F1 race on improving the national riders and technical experts.

“This spells good news for riders such as Jazeman (Jaafar), Nabil (Jeffri), Akash (Neil Nandy) and Danish (Isyraf Danish Mohd Ghazali),” he added. –Bernama