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Hong Kong E-Prix

by SCMP

2018 FIA Formula E Hong Kong E-Prix

Better the second time around: Hong Kong E-Prix rolls into action again

Big crowds are expected over the weekend as teams and drivers look for a winning start to the new Formula E season at Central Harbourfront

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 6:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 10:15pm

It’s always better the second time around, so the saying goes, as the hottest property in motor racing rolls into town with a show promising to be even better than 2016.

With more world-class drivers, more car manufacturers coming into the fray, more interest and more spectators pouring in for the two days of action at the iconic Central Harbourfront, this year’s HKT Hong Kong E-Prix double header will be out to prove the city belongs at the forefront of the fledgling series.

Hong Kong kicks off season four with a mission to deliver an even better show than last year’s inaugural race and things are already looking rosy for organisers.

Crowd attendances will easily top last year’s figures with tickets for the two-round championship almost sold out according to the chief executive of Formula E Racing Hong Kong, Alan Fang.

As of Thursday morning, about 33,700 tickets were sold, representing 87 per cent capacity.

With about 20,000 fans expected to throng the E-Village free zone over the weekend, the 2017-18 Formula E season is set for a rip-roaring start under glorious sunshine.

“We’re really happy to be here,” said Alejandro Agag, FIA Formula E founder and chief executive.

“We’re starting the season here. Formula E is probably in its best moment ever until the next race when it will be the best moment because Formula E keeps growing and getting more partners and manufacturers.

“For us, it’s a great moment to be here in Hong Kong. Hong Kong represents everything Formula E is all about. It’s racing in a city centre and it’s racing in a place where electric cars are really growing.

“I’ve seen so many electric cars around the city, even more than last year. For us, its great news to be here.

“It gets so much better and smoother the second time. Everything is easier, I haven’t seen any traffic jams around here.

“We believe in a cleaner city. We believe in electric cars. We believe in improving the lives of the people in the city. I hope everyone has a fantastic race.”

Alex Arena, group managing director of sponsors HKT, was also looking forward to another weekend of racing action, where 20 world-class drivers from 10 international teams will be out for glory.

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“The last time we held the race for the first time in Hong Kong, for most of us, it was a leap in the dark. We weren’t quite sure how it was going to go and not quite sure how our customers were going to respond to it,” said Arena.

“I’d say it was a fantastic success last year. The feedback from our partners and our customers and people who we invited were overwhelmingly positive, that’s why we could back up and do it again this year.

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“I’m ever so delighted that you have changed the format to have a double header. That really does mean that people attending either day can get a full day of action and that will enhance the attractiveness of the event.”

For Brazilian ace Lucas di Grassi, the defending champion of the overall series, the slate has been wiped clean as he hopes to make a winning start for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.

“The motivation has never been higher. I have been pushing in the summer time very hard to get the best performance that we can get out of the car, and out of myself and my team so I’m really confident that we got a really good package,” said Di Grassi.

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“Of course, we’re going to try very hard to win the championship but then again the focus – my approach – is the same as last year, which is race by race.

“We need to collect good points. We need to do good results and try to improve the team and the car in every race. The competition will be very tough.”

Asked whether he would be the greatest Formula E driver if he wins the series’ fourth season having a record second to none, Di Grassi smiled.

“That’s actually true. If you look at the points won, I have scored more points than anyone else these past three seasons. That doesn’t mean anything though. From tomorrow, everybody will be at the same level again and anyone of these drivers can win races and win championships.

“Everybody is super qualified to win, the teams are pushing very hard and they are investing a lot. There is no more weak team or weak driver, everybody is at a high level and it’s been like that since season three.

“The season every year is getting better and better and with more manufacturers joining and it’s only going to get harder.

“So it’s good for me that I’ve ticked one championship. But it’s going to be very hard to win it [again]. Everything has to go in the right direction”