Hong Kong motoring body, lawmaker press for Formula One circuit at Sunny Bay reclamation
Automobile Association joins up with Michael Tien in pressing the government for the project, saying the circuit could also be used for vehicle testing and carnivals
The city’s only authorised motor-racing organisation has joined hands with lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun in pressing for the construction of a multi-purpose Formula One race circuit on a proposed reclamation site in Sunny Bay as Hong Kong has been lagging behind in motorsports facilities.
The Hong Kong Automobile Association, the city’s only authority for issuing motorsport competition licences, made the appeal along with Tien as they said the planned 80-hectare site was ideal for building an international race track.
As the site proposed for reclamation is close to the Disneyland resort and the airport, they thought the proposed circuit would help boost tourism and the economy.
“Apart from hosting racing events, this circuit could also serve other purposes such as conducting tests for vehicles and hosting carnival events for tourists,” association president Kenneth Ng Shing-yip said.
“We have been longing for a race circuit as Hong Kong’s motor-racing culture has existed for many years. Up to now we’ve issued over 600 competition licences. It’s a great pity that we have the software but not the hardware,” he added.
Tien of the New People’s Party said the circuit could also cater to cycling and marathon events, so it could be fully utilised and self-sustaining.
He said the Sunny Bay site was very suitable for building a race circuit because it was slated for leisure, entertainment and tourism purposes and not housing.
“The government has consulted me about this site’s purpose. Since it cannot be used for residential use while the environment is very noisy as it is near the airport, the only feasible proposal is to build a tourism spot that can tolerate noise. An open-air race circuit will fit the bill,” he said.
The government will seek HK$99.8 million from the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee for a planning and engineering study for the reclamation project.
Citing the success of Singapore’s Formula One races, which generate HK$800 million in economic benefits and attract 250,000 visitors every year, Ng and Tien thought a multi-purpose race circuit would create tremendous benefits and spur tourism.
“The hosting of Formula E in Hong Kong last year, which attracted 21,000 visitors over just two days, also showed that a race track would be a potential success for the city,” Ng said.
However, Ng admitted that the sector might need to overcome environmental issues such as noise pollution and the impact on fisheries before the project could proceed.
A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau welcomed views about the use of the Sunny Bay site. She said they would study the feasibility of building a race circuit in the planning study.
Transport Advisory Committee member and association honorary life president Wesley Wan Wai-hei said they would continue to lobby for support from the government and lawmakers.