Sepang Circuit confident of contract extension and record crowd for MotoGP

There is no news yet on the return of F1 to Sepang but SIC are expecting a record crowd for this year’s MotoGP race. (AFP pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is confident the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) will remain part of the world championship calendar beyond its current contract which ends in 2021.

SIC Chairman Azman Yahya said the race in Sepang, which marks its 20th anniversary this November since it was first hosted in 1999, has been very popular and receives huge support from two-wheel race fans, and on this belief, he expressed confidence that a contract extension is in sight.

“We are looking forward to extending the contract. We are confident that MotoGP in Malaysia is here to stay,” he told reporters.

Azman is also confident that this year’s race, scheduled from Nov 1-3, will be the most exciting one for SIC with the combination of Malaysian riders and team (Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team), which he believes will help surpass the attendance record.

The 2018 edition registered a record turnout of 169,827 spectators despite a 25% entertainment tax imposed by the state government.

A check on SIC’s official website, showed the tickets are being sold at RM55 for K2 Hillstand; RM 412.50 for Premier Roving up to €1,075.90 (about RM4,957) for a two-day MotoGP VIP Village hospitality pass, which includes gourmet dining.

When asked about the possible return of Formula One to SIC, Azman said there were no updates on the matter at the moment.

Meanwhile, Shell Malaysia Chairman Iain Lo confirmed the oil and gas company are discussing with Dorna (the MotoGP exclusive commercial and TV rights holder) to remain as title sponsors for the Malaysia GP, a partnership that was first started in 2009.

“Our title sponsorship goes up to 2020, we have an option till 2021, we are still discussing with Dorna on what happens beyond 2020. But now we are focusing on this year’s race.

“We are increasing promotions this year to see if we can push the attendance beyond 200,000.

“Yes, we have a partnership with Ducati (team), but sponsoring a race like Malaysia, shows commitment to the sport and for our product development as we get exposure not only in Malaysia but globally through television broadcasts,” he said.