Currently ongoing this weekend of February 5 and 6, the 2022 MotoGP Winter Test will be used as a test bed for future international motorsports events in Malaysia. Sepang International Circuit (SIC) CEO Azhan Shafriman Hanif said Winter Test is important as the government as well as race organisers Dorna will use this as a template for future events at SIC.
“Winter Test is the first international motorsports event at Sepang since the beginning of the pandemic. As such, the eyes of the authorities, the Health Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry will be paying close attention to the SOPs we proposed and are implementing,” said Shafriman.
Saying that it took a lot of work to convince the authorities to allow Winter Test to proceed, Shafriman explained the gradual loosening of the standard operating procedures in line with government guidelines is necessary for the health of the national economy. “We will have to learn to live with Covid-19, in the expectation it will eventually be endemic,” said Shafriman.
This will have a bearing on the scheduling of the 2022 Malaysian Grand Prix, slated to happen in October of this year. “We have to wait and see but god willing, the Malaysian MotoGP will happen as scheduled,” Shafriman added.
As to whether the Malaysian Grand Prix will happen with a limited capacity crowd or be open to all will depend on the authorities, Shafriman elaborated. “Certainly, the Malaysian MotoGP was voted best for two years and the MotoGP teams love the circuit. Many are pleased to be back in Malaysia for Winter Test,” he said.
“We have seen crowds in excess of 160,000 people and it is obvious the fans are willing to come to SIC and support not just MotoGP but other motorsports events,” Shafriman said, using the unexpected crowd turning out to watch Winter Test from the main grandstand as an example.
Shafriman said SIC is also looking at external revenue streams in future with the withdrawal of the Ministry of Youth and Sports grant. “We will be holding events such as cycling, which has proven popular with the public,” Shafriman said, “and the driving centre where driving enthusiasts can upgrade and hone their skills is proceeding.”
As for motorsports talent development, the SIC MiniGP programme is still in place and will identify grassroots talent for coming years. “Our boys in the Spanish CEV are still competing, and we aim to get Damok into Moto3 next year,” said Shafriman.
At the basis of it, Shafriman expressed his gratitude to Malaysian motorsports fans for their support and patience during the past two years with the cancellation of the Malaysian MotoGP in 2020 and 2021. “It has been a difficult period for many and I am grateful Malaysian fans are still supporting SIC by coming to watch the Winter Test.”