Formula E bosses pull the plug on electric-car race in Hong Kong
Circuit in Central fails to win approval - but auto association chief is hopeful for future
The new Formula E motor racing championship will not be coming to Hong Kong after the proposed circuit in Central failed to meet the approval of the world auto sports governing body.
President of the Hong Kong Automobile Association Lawrence Yu Kam-kee was in Paris last week to see the International Automobile Federation (FIA) unveil the calendar for the new electric racing series, only to see Hong Kong was excluded.
"I'm very disappointed," Yu said from Paris. "The Hong Kong race was cancelled because the FIA didn't approve the circuit. They said the circuit was not up to their standards.
"I believe it was not just one part of the circuit, but many parts which did not measure up to expectations," Yu said. "This is the first time we were making a bid and we couldn't meet the FIA requirements in time. Hopefully we can do better in the future."
It was to have been the first internationally sanctioned race in Hong Kong, with electrically powered cars speeding through the city at 200 km/h.
The initial circuit had to be changed after the government ruled that a section of road near the gates to its offices in Admiralty could not be used. Though the race would have been on a Sunday, the gates had to remain open so Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying could go to work.
The alternative route reduced the length of the circuit to 2.4 kilometres. Then another problem arose over a stretch of tarmac on Lung Wo Road in Central.
On a visit to the city in October, Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag said: "The route is our No1 concern right now. Everything is sorted, except for one, small 10-metre stretch which goes under a tunnel and which the FIA has raised concerns about due to safety issues."
Hong Kong didn't pass the final FIA examination.
In its official announcement, Formula E hinted that Hong Kong could be included in the future. "Rio de Janeiro replaces Hong Kong, which will instead be considered as a candidate city for the following Formula E seasons," the statement said.
Yu remained optimistic. "Yes, I'm disappointed we will not be part of the inaugural series, but on the other hand I'm happy that we have started discussions and brought this into the limelight, which will be useful as we look at organising races in the future."
Hong Kong-based racing driver Darryl O'Young said: "It is sad Hong Kong lost the slot and it will be disappointing as many people worked very hard to try and make the race happen.
"On the positive side, I believe it was still a big step forward for Hong Kong motorsport to try to turn this race into reality. Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future."
The inaugural 10-city series will start in September in Beijing and run until June 2015. Other cities include Miami, Monte Carlo and London.