Sepang prize for fastest driver

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 December, 2004, 12:00am

Never mind the longest drive. The hunt is on for the fastest driver in Fanling. And the winner will get two VIP Grandstand tickets to the Petronas Formula 1 race in Malaysia from March 18-20.

In an audacious move to get the attention of the Hong Kong public - and corporate sector - the Sepang International Circuit, hosts and organisers of the second race on the 2005 F1 calendar have set up a tent in Fanling where they are busily promoting the Malaysian Grand Prix. This is the first time that a F1 race is being sold at the Hong Kong Open.

'We want to make an impact on the Hong Kong market which has grown in recent years. We are looking to get the public as well as the corporate community to come to Kuala Lumpur for a week of fun,' said Stuart Tan, a spokesman for the Malaysian F1 race.

Visitors to Fanling today can try their hand out at driving a F1 racing simulator pod - half of the car driven by former Petronas Sauber driver Giancarlo Fisichella - at the hospitality suites set up on the fringe of the 18th green. They can also see a genuine F1 car situated next to the eighth green.

The current time to beat is one minute, 39 seconds, the length one member of the public took to drive around the 5.5km Sepang circuit as seen on the simulator. This writer is already out of a separate competition for the media, crashing one time - it has one hair-raising hairpin from hell - before inching across the finish line in a miserable 2:58.

'This is not just a race. Every year, the Malaysian F1 generates close to US$125 million in tourism related revenue for the country. Apart from the motor-racing, tourists can taste our unique culture,' said Tan.

The professional golfers also get the chance to win a couple of VIP paddock passes, but they will have to do it the harder way - by scoring a hole-in-one at the eighth hole. Their rewards are also much higher. If anyone of Padraig Harrington and company achieves this at the 188-yard par-three which has a raised green, they will also get five nights stay in a five-star hotel in Langkawi, three nights of accommodation in Kuala Lumpur and a pair of Business Class return tickets.

'We are extremely delighted to be a partner of such a prestigious event as the Hong Kong Open. As such, we have decided to offer players a chance to win their way to Malaysia to witness the excitement of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix,' said Izuddin Rosli, sales and marketing manager for the Sepang circuit. Sepang organisers said the promotion had nothing to do with the emergence of Shanghai as a F1 circuit. In September the inaugural China Grand Prix was held at the brand new Shanghai International circuit. The race was won by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello.

'This is the first time we are promoting the race at the Hong Kong Open because golf and motor-sports attracts the same kind of people. But no, we are not in competition with Shanghai,' added Tan.