Sepang gears up for 20th MotoGP in November

When the Malaysian GP rolls around in November it will be the 20th MotoGP race SIC has organised at Sepang. (AFP pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is gearing up to host the 20th edition of the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) from Nov 1-3, to ensure a special and memorable event for fans and riders alike.

Since the inaugural edition at the 5.543km track in 1999, the brainchild of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has matured into a showpiece of motor racing in the Southeast Asia region.

Besides the 20th anniversary, this year’s event also coincides with the 10th year of Shell’s title sponsorship for the Malaysia GP and 70th anniversary of the MotoGP, which started in January 1949 with events consisting of the Isle of Man TT, Swiss GP, Dutch TT, Belgian GP, Ulster GP and the GP of Nations at Monza.

SIC chairman Azman Yahya said the historic moment is bound to be a special occasion as the circuit has worked hard over the years to ensure the race is of the highest quality.

“It will be such a great honour to witness the 20th anniversary of the Malaysian GP this year – and also the 70th anniversary of the MotoGP,” he said during the official launch of the Shell Malaysia MotoGP here tonight.

“For 20 years, we have worked hard to ensure that the quality of the Malaysia GP is at the highest level and we have proven that with our success as the Best Grand Prix in 2012 and 2017 as awarded by the Grand Prix Commission.

“I’m grateful to have a loyal partner like Shell, who has been with us since 2009. We have seen waves of success during the 10 years together and I thank you for that.”

With a steady growth since 2010, the event has blossomed into a spectacular affair for two-wheel fans, selling out year after year, wherein 2018, the Malaysia MotoGP registered a record turnout of 169,827 spectators for the three-day event.

Over the years, MotoGP has served as a platform to develop Malaysian talent to compete in world-class championships with the likes of Shahrol Yuzy, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Adam Norrodin and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, to name a few.

Meanwhile, Shell Malaysia chairman Iain Lo said the oil and gas company is excited to celebrate its long-standing involvement in world motorcycle racing with all motorsports enthusiasts through its collaboration with SIC.

At the same event, SIC and Shell Malaysia also announced special off-track activities for fans, as two winners will have the chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to watch the Shell Malaysia MotoGP with exclusive behind-the-scenes experience through the MalaysianGP Superfan Contest.

Among the highlights for this year will be a live viewing session in Kuantan, the first time outside Klang Valley, to extend its excitement to a larger group of fans and the return of Shell Hill stand.

Aimed at providing a bigger and better Malaysian MotoGP experience, fans will have the chance to support their favourite riders in action as SIC’s All-Stars showcase their talented MotoGP riders taking on Team Media FC at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Fans also will have the chance to get up close and personal with top riders like defending champion Marc Marquez, seven-time champion Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo as well as national rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah, among others, during the two-day rider’s autograph session and fan forum at SIC in early November.

“The hype will be much bigger this year as we have a Malaysian team racing in three different categories of the championship,” Azman added.

“The Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team just bared their fangs when Fabio Quartararo finished second at the Catalunya GP and with Hafizh and Khairul Idham Pawi on the grid, Malaysians will have more to cheer for.

“Although tickets remain at the same price for the Malaysian GP, there is an addition of 25% entertainment tax imposed by the state government.

“However, the event remains to be a much-awaited one and tickets are selling fast. I encourage all fans to start getting theirs now before it sells out.

“To ensure a comfortable and convenient experience for the fans, work has also begun to fix the roofing of the Main Grandstand and better fittings for the public toilets. We are excited to see the new and improved roof during the race this year.”