Formula-E race plan back on track for Hong Kong after Central circuit tweaks
Revised and simplified street circuit reopens the door for organisers of revolutionary international series to stage contest in city
Hong Kong's first internationally sanctioned motor race, the Formula E, is back on track for next year with top official Lawrence Yu Kam-kee confident a revamped and modified circuit plan will be accepted by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
The city was dumped from the inaugural season of the new electric-car racing series, starting in September in Beijing, after the proposed circuit in Central failed to meet the approval of the world auto sports governing body. The FIA believed the circuit along Lung Wo Road was not safe for electrically powered cars racing through the streets at speeds of 200km/h.
"We have now come up with a new plan for the circuit, one which has been modified and will make it easier to be accepted by the FIA," said Yu, president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association. "This modified circuit is safer for high-speed cars to go through Central."
The most contentious part of the circuit, a 10-metre stretch, which dips under a small tunnel, has been bypassed under one option, and this has raised hopes the new circuit will get the green light from the FIA.
Technical officials from Formula E have given the thumbs up to the adapted plan, according to Yu.
"I'm very confident we will get approval now that we have made changes to the circuit, the most important being that we will not go through the tunnel," Yu said. "We can cut this bit out as it was deemed dangerous at high speeds. Among the other modifications we have undertaken is to widen the road in a number of areas.
"The track will still remain at 2.4 kilometres, but it will be simpler and safer. Once we get on the circuit, we can make the race more interesting by introducing sharp corners and so on. But our first objective is to become part of the series and to do that we have had to modify our circuit," Yu said.
If the plan is approved by the FIA, it will mean removing a number of islands along Lung Wo Road before race day as well as a number of traffic lights.
"It is probably a blessing in disguise that we were rejected by the FIA this year. If they had approved our circuit this time, I don't think we would have had sufficient time to work with the various government departments," Yu said. "We need all the support from the government to make this a success.
"The race can become the Hong Kong Sevens of the Formula E series - it can become the most popular leg in the series.
"Now that we have a modified plan for the circuit, I'm confident we can hold a race in Central next October or November."