Sepang International Circuit close to finalising long-term MotoGP contract extension

Marc Marquez celebrates after winning the Malaysian MotoGP race, November 4, 2019. — Reuters pic
Marc Marquez celebrates after winning the Malaysian MotoGP race, November 4, 2019. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is close to finalising a long-term contract extension with the promoter of Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP), Dorna Sports.

Despite the cancellation of this year’s race amid the Covid-19 pandemic, SIC Chief Executive Officer, Azhan Shafriman Hanif said talks have been positive for Malaysia to remain in the World Championship calendar, with strong support from the fans and sponsors.

“Our current contract to host the MotoGP is until 2021, but we are at the tail end of concluding an extension for a long term one. We will announce it once we finalise the details and documents.

“We foresee that we do not have any problems for an extension, we have been working with them (MotoGP) since 1999,” he said during a virtual press meet today.

Meanwhile, Azhan Shafriman said fans who have already purchased tickets for the 2020 MotoGP which was scheduled from October 30 to November 1, can contact SIC through phone (03-8778 2222) or email ([email protected]) for queries on the refund process.

“We have not decided on whether we will allow the fans to use the ticket for next year, we will announce if there is an update, but the fans can contact us for refunds. We had opened ticket sales early this year, but closed it once the movement control order (MCO) started.

“The total sale of tickets is between 20 to 30 per cent of last year’s sales. We have thoughts of only allowing 40 per cent of the total capacity for this season (after MCO), but we had to cancel the race for safety and health reasons, while races with spectators are still a long away to go,” he said without revealing the figures.

Commenting further, Azhan Shafriman said the stakeholders had to make the tough decision to cancel the race for the safety of everyone because of the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions imposed by the government.

MotoGP governing bodies — the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), International Road-Racing Teams Association (IRTA) and Dorna Sports – on Friday announced that the Malaysian GP at SIC, together with Argentina and Thailand GPs had been called off.

The Malaysian GP has been held in South-East Asia since 1991, the longest in the region, and the SIC has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since taking over from the Shah Alam Circuit and Johor Circuit in 1999.

Azhan Shafriman said the financial losses incurred from the cancellation of 2020 MotoGP is substantial, but SIC had set up a small task force to look into the plans and come up with short and mid-term alternatives to balance the books.

Nevertheless, he said the iconic racetrack is almost fully booked till end of the year for various local motorsports events, while it is set to host a number of international events like MotoGP, Asian Le Mans and Asia GT in 2021. — Bernama

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