Malaysia will see another F1 race circuit by 2016 in Iskandar, Johor following the developer’s decision to upgrade from Grade 2 as announced last year to F1 Test-grade quality.
The Straits Times reported that FASTrack Autosports – a joint venture between Singapore tycoon Peter Lim (pic) and the Johor royal family – had decided to upgrade after it found out that the cost was only 10% more than Grade 2.
Its reported cost isjust under US$100 million (RM322.5 million) and is part of a US$1.4 billion motorsports hub project by FASTrack and UEM Land of Malaysia.
FASTrack chief executive Barry Kan said the circuit would have all the technical requirements needed for Formula One races, when asked if the race circuit would compete with tracks in Sepang and Singapore as a venue for F1 races in the future.
“F1 teams can test their cars here, but whether a circuit is an F1 track depends on one man,” the daily quoted him as saying, referring to F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone.
“It’ll be faster than Sepang, Monza and Singapore.”
The 4.5km F1T circuit will be fitted with gentler gradients, wider run-off areas, stronger barriers and a longer straight stretch over 1km which will allow cars to go faster than 300km/h, compared to the Grade 2 circuit.
The circuit, part of the Motorsports City project, is designed by famed racetrack designer from Germany, Hermann Tilke and will also be able to host superbike events with its two paddocks.
In addition, there will be an off-road circuit for sports utility vehicles, two go-Kart circuits and a “bonded area” which is actually a tax-free zone for collectors to keep their cars.
Venture capitalist Tommie Goh, who said he would consider using the facilities at the circuit, noted that it will “give Singapore a run for the money”.
However, deputy chairman of Grand Prix organiser Singapore GP Colin Syn pointed out that the Johor circuit will only be considered for F1 races if Singapore and Sepang circuits do not renew their contracts.
Sepang’s contract ends in 2015 while Singapore’s street circuit contract ends in 2017.
“And like everybody else, they’d have to pay a lot of money to host the race,” Syn said to the daily.
Sepang International Circuit chief executive Razlan Razali was also quoted as saying earlier that the Johor project was “more as a playground for the wealthy” than a competitive racetrack. – September 27, 2013.