Two days, two races – Hong Kong Formula E organisers want new format to boost fan interest

HKAA’s Lawrence Yu says the city is once again likely to kick off the new season after its successful debut last year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 9:42am

Hong Kong ePrix organisers are confident of taking this year’s event to another level by turning it into a two-race extravaganza over two days, enhancing the atmosphere and boosting spectator interest.

The city is also expected to kick off the 2017-18 season once again after makings its debut in October when Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi, of Renault e.Dams, won the inaugural FIA-sanctioned race.

“There was only one race last year as it was our inaugural event and everything was new to us,” said Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, life honorary president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association and widely considered the “Father” of Hong Kong Formula E racing.

“As we continue to stage the event for the second consecutive season, we are confident of expanding it to two races in two days which will definitely be more attractive to the fans for more racing and a better atmosphere.

“There will also be other changes as we are looking for more supporting races in order to provide more entertainment during the two racing days. Even electronic go-karting is one of the possibilities.”

Both the New York and Montreal legs in North America, which will wrap up the current season in July, are having two separate races on two consecutive days and Hong Kong is hoping to introduce a similar format for next season.

Yu said Hong Kong would likely launch the fourth season of the world series in late November or early December this year, although the final schedule has yet to be finalised.

“There are still ongoing discussions on the cities for next season but as far as we understand, Hong Kong will be the first choice as the series is likely to start from Asia, Australia to Europe and then wrap up again in America,” he said.

“We staged an impressive event last year and there is no way we are not going to lead the season again.”

Yu, however, remained cautious on whether ticket prices could be reduced. Each ticket for the 6,000-seat grandstands at Lung Wo Road cost HK$2,380 for the inaugural event.

“We don’t have too much room for that [cutting the ticket prices],” said Yu. “We are staging the event in a street circuit which means we have only limited space for setting up spectator stands.

"As we will use the same circuit for the second season, we can only have a similar number of seats.

“We know the organisers suffered a big loss in its inaugural event and it will be very difficult for them to cut the ticket prices.”

Yu said while other motor racing events in the region, such as Malaysia and Singapore have received government funding, the Hong Kong e-Prix has not.

“We are keen to provide exciting motor racing for the fans but we are also running a sports business and we need income to sustain it,” he said.

The inaugural Hong Kong ePrix received the biggest commercial sponsorship among the entire series of the season, amounting to HK$70 million, but still the organisers faced a big deficit of an estimated HK$30 to HK$50 million.