06 April 2019 09:00
Malaysia loves MotoGP and MotoGP loves Malaysia. Motorsport Live takes a look at the championship’s visit to the country.
Since 1999 Sepang International Circuit has opened its doors to the world of action-packed MotoGP racing. Designed by Hermann Tilke and built in just 14 months, initially for Formula 1, the circuit has been a consistent fixture on the calendar and also been extensively used for MotoGP pre-season testing over the years.
The iconic 5.54 km track in the 2,300-acre complex, consists of four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium to high-speed corners. The configuration is particularly favourable for overtaking manoeuvers and plenty of open throttle making for an exciting Grand Prix year on year, seeing battles lost and champions crowned along the way, and that’s why spectators flock to the venue.
Malaysia has plenty of history in MotoGP as the inaugural championship Grand Prix was held at the Shah Alam Circuit in 1991. The circuit hosted the event for seven years before it switched to Johor for a single year in 1998; Sepang, since then, has been the permanent host.
Last year, Sepang International Circuit set an all-time record, with 166,486 fans turning out for the three-day event. In 2017, the race was awarded the title of Best Grand Prix from Grand Prix Commission. It was the second award for the circuit after its first recognition in 2012.
Lots of exciting action has taken place during Malaysian Grand Prix. The 2015 race played host to the titanic duel between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez that ultimately resulted in a controversial clash that altered the outcome of the championship and permanently soured their relationship. Last year The Doctor (Rossi) was set for victory but a late mistake agonisingly left him on the ground and it was champion Marquez who profited.
In terms of vantage points the main grandstand is the one favoured by fans to watch the MotoGP race, not least for its protection from the Sun, but also for the pit action, and overtaking opportunities out of the last corner and into the first; other good options are the VR46 Tribune (at the front of Turn 1), Grandstand F or Marc Marquez Tribune (near the Main Grandstand). But if fans want a different atmosphere, K2 and C2 Hillstand are both worthy choice as they offer spectator views of the bikes cornering at high speed or the complex set of turns that make the final sector of the track respectively.
Off the track, fans also entertained with a variety of activities lined up by the organisers. Activities start with the ever-popular Riders’ Autograph Session and Public Pit Lane Walk on Friday where fans can get up close to the riders and MotoGP machines.
Starting last year, Sepang International Circuit elevated the fan experience, with the introduction of MotoMate app, which gives fans up-to-date information about the race event, interesting information about the circuit and much more through their mobile devices.
Sepang is located around 50km south of Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Fans can reach the circuit by car, bus or train. With two airports near to the Sepang International Circuit (KLIA and KLIA 2) servicing all major destinations worldwide. Getting to the circuit could not be easier.
With good local transportation options, most fans choose to stay at Bukit Bintang. Known for Jalan Bukit Bintang, well regarded as Kuala Lumpur’s trendiest shopping and entertainment district, offering everything from sleek shopping centers and five-star hotels to all-day restaurants and vibrant nightclubs.
Other places worth of a visit are Little India and Chinatown, the old colonial centre around Merdeka Square and the area nicknamed the Golden Triangle in the heart of the downtown district. In the countryside surrounding Kuala Lumpur there is easy access for a rainforest experience amongst the elevated treetop walkway of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, whilst a beautiful Hindu shrine can be found at Batu Caves.
Want to feel the origins of Malay culture? Then a two hour drive south from Kuala Lumpur will take you to Melaka, one of the most historic regions of the country. On the west coast, fans will also find the interesting city of Georgetown – the original British settlement in Malaysia on Penang Island.
For the foodies, Malaysia serves up an array of delicacies worthy of a try, including Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng Mamak or Laksa. Locally they accompany it with Teh Tarik, (a strong brew of black tea blended with condensed milk) which is also the national drink of Malaysia. Coupled with endless food markets and food stalls, Malaysia offers something for everyone.
For guaranteed thrilling MotoGP wheel-to-wheel action, hot weather and a melting pot of ancient history and forward-thinking culture, then Malaysia is a must-visit.