Sepang circuit celebrates 10th anniversary

March 20th, 2008 - 4:03 pm ICT by admin  

By Anand Philar
Sepang (Malaysia), March 20 (IANS) Back in October 1999, Malaysia became only the second Asian country after Japan to host a Formula One Grand Prix race at the spanking new Sepang International Circuit, about 45 km from Kuala Lumpur and adjoining the new international airport. Thousands of Indians packed the stands around the 5.5 Km circuit that was the first of the purpose-built Hermann Tilke track. Ferrari achieved a 1-2 result with the flamboyant Irishman Eddie Irvine leading Michael Schumacher past the finish line.

It was Schumacher’s comeback race after suffering injuries following a crash at the British GP at Silverstone earlier in the year.

A huge Indian contingent is expected here for the GP2 series and Formula BMW Pacific Championship this weekend. The two-day bash will see celebrities and a sprinkling of cine stars besides Vijay Mallya’s handpicked guests.

The large Indian attendance is due to the fact that three young racers - Karun Chandhok (24), Armaan Ebrahim (18) and Aditya Patel (19), all from Chennai - will be seen in action.

While Karun and Armaan would be driving in the GP2 series race, Aditya is all set to make his international Formula racing debut in the Formula BMW Pacific championship.

In 2001, Malaysian GP was shifted to March following the Australian GP that for long has been the season-opener.

Although Sepang will host its 10th Formula 1 GP this weekend, there were no visible signs as yet of celebrations to commemorate the landmark on a typically hot and humid afternoon at the track here.

While the 11 Formula One teams were busy setting up shop in the pit lane along the main straight, the activity was even more hectic past the first corner as the GP2, Formula BMW Pacific and Speedcar Series garages were getting readied for the weekend gala.

The 15-turn track contains a variety of corners, from a tight second gear hairpin leading on to the pit straight to two high-speed sweeping corners at turns five and six and a fast double-apex right hander. Even now, the track is still regarded as one of the best and most challenging among the new circuits. The aerodynamics would play a key role with a compromise between high and low down force.

The unpredictable weather that is a mixture of searing heat and high humidity with spells of heavy rains plays a decisive role in the races.

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