Track fulfils legal need for speed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 March, 2011, 12:00am

It is increasingly hard to enjoy a fast car in Hong Kong without breaking the law, says Richburg Lotus CEO Eric Wong. But there is a new, legal outlet for speed merchants over the border, he says.

'All of Hong Kong's speeding cameras have been digitalised and the police use dozens of ghost cars in operations,' says Wong, a former policeman. 'There is nowhere to really put your foot down to the throttle, unless you are illegally racing with others.'

But local speed merchants needn't swap their Lotus Exiges for a demure little Smart car just yet, the importer says. 'The best way to make driving fast cars fun again, is to race them on a track on the mainland.'

Richburg Lotus is launching a new track scheme this month. On March 18 and 20, the dealer will stage 'the first Lotus race in China' at the Guangdong International Circuit (GIC), a 2.8km-long FIA Grade III track, between Zhaoqing and Sanshui City. With five left and eight right-hand turns, and a 718-metre straight on each clockwise lap, the circuit is scheduled to host the China round of this season's World Touring Car Championship in November.

The circuit could prove a challenge for Hong Kong drivers, says Wong, who tested the circuit at 230km/h in a Lotus Europa S. 'The GIC demands lots of driving skills: mental determination and operational responses,' he says.

The dealer has also set up an 'operational base for the racecars' upkeep' and a VIP lounge in the stands' upper deck for catering, showering and tactics classes, Wong says. Richburg Lotus will offer visitors two used 2 Elevens, five track-tuned new Exige S (HK$498,000) and Europa S (HK$479,000) for purchase at the circuit 'without import duties', Wong says, adding that cars can be rented for three days for HK$79,000.

The dealer expects its first track day to help promote the British marque in southern China and identify up-and-coming local talent. Richburg Lotus also offers aspiring drivers an incentive to join its GIC grid this month.

'Through the one race, we select the best drivers for our Macau GP race, and other open races such as the Japan Lotus, or Bangkok Lotus events,' Wong says.

One British and five Chinese drivers have already enrolled for the Lotus race and Wong invites more to apply on or call 9178 7676.

The dealership is also forming Team Richburg to race in this year's Road Sport Challenge at the Macau Grand Prix, he says.