Wealth Blog

Petrolhead alert - Hong Kong gets Formula One simulator

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 July, 2013, 9:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 July, 2013, 9:15am

Hong Kong’s petrolheads will love the SAR’s first grown-up Formula One standard simulator. Racing Simulation in Wong Chuk Hang is the real deal, a multi-million dollar professional facility to rival any in Europe. It’s not just seeing if you can beat your mates around Silverstone, they offer new driver evaluation, driver coaching, track recognition, simulator testing, race engineer training and corporate days. It’s been designed specifically to bring on promising young drivers, allowing seasoned experts to practice and give enthusiastic amateurs a thrill.

It’s built by leading industry engineers Cranfield Motorsport Simulation, which is linked to Cranfield University and made its name developing pilot training systems in the 1980s. Their experience and technological innovation means it’s rated the most effective and realistic of the motorsport training simulators. And the professionals agree.

But cheap it’s not. The general membership package is 30 hours/sessions for HK $66,000, 20 hours/sessions for $52,000 and 10 for $30,000. Regular introductory sessions come in at $4,800 for an experience course, with subsequent sessions $3,500 per hour. Racing Competition License holders get special rates.

The venture is the brainchild of Hong Kong businessman Stephen Luk Wing-tak, who believes racing simulation plays a pivotal role in bringing on future generations of Hong Kong racing drivers: Hong Kong lacks its own race track and having invested HK$3 million, they emphasized that Racing Simulation is not a game.

Reigning Audi R8 LMS Cup Champion Marchy Lee and FIA World Touring Car Champion Darryl O’Young are ambassadors for the new venture: “Racing Simulation is for drivers who are serious about the sport. With this facility, you can achieve in one hour of what would take half a day on a race track. Drivers, coaches and engineers can work together on car set up and race craft just as though they were physically at a track with the car itself, but you are saving the cost of track fees, fuel, parts and especially, tyres,” they say.

The machine has almost every track and every conceivable racing car in its system, so drivers from any championships can use Racing Simulation to sharpen their skills without leaving Hong Kong.

It’s realistic in every way, with ‘constant cues’ built in which cover eye position movement (kinaesthetic), sustained pressure (somatic) cues from actuators placed around the seat bucket as well as harness tension variation, and true vibration cues, based on real vehicle data which are put in via an Ethernet connection, and aerodynamic buffet, engine, track, tyre variations, and driving over a curb. Well, it certainly sounds impressive.

“Racing Simulation is the closest imaginable experience to actually being in the car. You can physically feel the forces when braking, acceleration and cornering, and the data feedback is the same as you get from your actual racing car. There are a multitude of benefits quite apart from the cost savings. At many race meetings there is only limited time on track, so Racing Simulation means you can learn a new racetrack and the ideal set up for your car before you arrive and literally hit the track running,” says O’Young. Many championships, including Formula One, have cut back on official testing to save money, but a professional simulator is a fraction of the cost. OK, I think we get the message, the boys like it.

It should certainly help aspiring Hong Kong drivers heading to Europe to make their name. Previously they had the disadvantage of not knowing any of the circuits, a major factor in motorsport success. This simulator allows you to practice on any known circuit you are likely to encounter, without burning a single bit of rubber. With a set of tyres costing upwards of HK$10,000 that alone is a massive saving for a young driver.

But it’s not just for the young who bent on real racing success. Now all of you with a petrolhead partner need never wonder what to give him for Christmas again.