The thrill of racing at night is an exciting prospect for some petrol heads. The smell of burning rubber and approaching the corners at night give different depths to racing.
Hence, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has taken the initiative to install lights all around the circuit to enable track time and racing at night.
SIC has ushered in a new era in racing at the famed 5.543km circuit with the installation of the lights. Since its opening in 1999, SIC has been the crown jewel of Malaysian motorsports as it plays host to marquee events like the Formula 1 and the MotoGP. SIC is the first modern Formula 1 circuit in the world, and although many new circuits have emerged around the globe since, SIC is still regarded as one of the best for pure racing. And the launch of the Circuit Lights will further elevate SIC as one of the very few circuits in the world that can host night racing. the historic launch of the night lights was done by none other than the man who launched SIC himself, Prime Minister YAB Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad. The Premier was also one the first to experience driving around the track in a supercar to get a feel of the fully-lit track.
“It’s an honour to have Tun officiating the night lights,” said Tan Sri Azman Yahya, Chairman of SIC.
“Tun Dr Mahathir launched SIC back in 1999 and that was the start of the development of Malaysian motorsports until what it has become today. After 19 years, Tun Dr Mahathir is back to officiate another milestone at the iconic circuit.”
As SIC has been fully booked at an average of 98% a year for the past couple of years, the initiative to install the circuit lights serve two main purposes – firstly to allow SIC to sell more track time as demand for track time especially on weekends is extremely high. Secondly, to allow for night racing which will be very popular here in Malaysia.
“We saw that the only opportunity for us to increase track bookings is through opening the track at night, thus we have decided to make it accessible by installing lights all around the track,” added Tan Sri Azman.
“We have engaged a specialist that has the expertise with circuit lighting and they were also responsible for installing lights at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Losail International Circuit in Qatar, Jukasa Speedway in Canada and Bahrain International Circuit amongst others. They were also responsible for the lighting at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil for the KL SEA Games last year.”
Rigorous test sessions were conducted late last year to determine the suitable lux level – between 70 and 150 lux. The lux level determined is suitable for night track days and racing. However, it will not meet the requirements of Formula 1 or MotoGP events which require higher lux level for broadcasting purposes.
The Circuit Lights consist of 64 light poles, measuring a minimum of 17m to 43m, with a consistent illumination power of 150 lux throughout the circuit. The position of the poles and the lights were designed that all part of the circuit has the same illumination intensity. This is very important especially for motorbike riders so that they can judge the braking zone, cornering apex and acceleration zone perfectly. The design and location of the poles have been approved by the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) and International Automobile Federation (FIA).
“I believe this initiative, besides doubling the hours of track time available for booking, will give a new experience to those who are accustomed of having track days at our circuit when the sun is still up,” added Tan Sri Azman.
Bookings for night events started with the first four-wheel event on 7th July 2018. Year to date, the night track bookings are 10% ahead of its target. SIC foresee high take-ups from their current partners and club users to experience driving and riding at night.
With the initiative of lighting the circuit at night, this will continue to propel SIC’s business sustainability and open up a new dimension to track experience.