Sunday, July 10, 2016

Brand New Formula 4 Set To Boost Malaysia's Motorsports Industry

Bernama Picture

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's emerging motorsports industry is set to receive a big boost when the new Formula 4 (F4) South East Asia (SEA) flags off next month.

Malaysia will be the first country in SEA to host the new format, an initiative by the Federation International Automobile (FIA) to offer young drivers an opportunity to take the first affordable step from karting into the world of single-seater racing.

After providing an ideal learning tool for young drivers in 11 championships around the world since the F4 launch in 2014, SEA will be the latest addition in the F4 circuit.

The race promoter and organiser, Asian Autosport Action Group (AAA) wanted to see the development of motorsports in the region as a whole besides creating a bigger pool of young racers in this region.

"Motorsport like F1 and MotoGP are very popular in Malaysia, but the money goes out of the country after the race. The engineers, teams, mechanics and marshals are from outside...We wanted to groom the local engineers and crew to develop the industry here," its chairman and chief executive officer, Peter Thompson said.

"Malaysia has the technological players like the CTRM (Composites Technology Research Malaysia) in Melaka and the other required high technology equipment and engineers. We are not going to invest on the facilities, we just need to train them and come up with our own design to produce the cars and parts.

"We will start F3 in three years and F2 after five years...This will be a start of ASEAN motorsports ecosystem owned by a Malaysian company. For now, we will use cars manufactured in France, but planning to design and build our own car after three years because it takes about three years to build a FIA approved car," he told Bernama.

For the inaugural season starting this August, all racers will be driving the Renault F4R 2.0L (4-cylinder 2000cc) non-turbo engine with 160bhp, equipped with paddle shift six speed gearbox and Hankook tires solely managed by Meritus GP, a brand under AAA.

Thompson also confirmed that the organiser had already signed 16 drivers including five Malaysians. The five are last year's Asia Cup rookie, Adam Khalid, Eric Louis Pragasam, Adam Haikal, Isyraf Daniel and Nazim Azman. Efforts are on to enlist another two Malaysian drivers before the flag off.

He explained further that as the high cost was a big hurdle for aspiring young drivers to start their racing career, AAA has reduced the cost by managing everything under a single umbrella with Meritus GP to be the exclusive team to handle operations.

"The main idea of F4 is to provide an easy transition from karting into motorsports. Our concept and packaging of F4 has helped to reduce the transition cost from karting to formula racing and in fact we are now cheaper than karting where the 30 round race will just cost 100,000 Euro (about RM443,295.66).

"It is less than half the cost of F4 in the UK, Germany or Italy...The Malaysian national motorsport team Meritus GP, has won 36 FIA international titles over the last 20 years. We are also race winners in GP2 Asia the F1 feeder series. We are introducing the one concept which will have one car and one engineering team.

With the collaboration of Renault Sport Racing, the young drivers will be under the radar of Renault Sport Academy and it is hoped that the champions will be rewarded with Formula Renault 2.0 test.

The driver's talent will determine the champion as everyone will race with the same car and the top 7 drivers will earn FIA Super Licence points.

The first six rounds are scheduled from Aug 5-7 at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) as a support race for the Asian Le Mans, while another six rounds will be from Sept 2-4 as a supporting race for the F1 Malaysian GP, followed by another two races from Oct 1-2 at the same circuit.

Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will host the next six rounds from Nov 3-6 before the race heads back to SIC for another two events of six races from Nov 9-11 and from Dec 9-11 before flagging down the 32 rounds of the inaugural season.


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