With the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and declaration of a State of Emergency for Malaysia, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is not taking things for granted and is prepared for a tough year ahead. With the cancellation of the MotoGP Winter Test in February and Malaysian Superbike Championship rounds, scheduled for this month, SIC chief executive officer Azlan Shafriman Hanif is optimistic that the circuit and its staff will weather this crisis as it has in the past year.
“The MCO has had a severe impact on SIC’s revenue last year, I don’t have the exact number with me right now, but in terms of percentage of revenue it’s more than 50%, from our calculations,” said Shafriman. Shafriman, who prefers to be knows as “Shaf”, said this has affected SIC’s profit for 2020.
Realising this has to be addressed, Shaf has implemented cost savings and control of fixed costs, something that was started last year during the first MCO and will continue into this year. “We have several plans, especially in the area of cost control and we will have to be careful with expenditure,” he said.
Shaf doesn’t expect the MCO to be lifted in two weeks and foresees a possible continuation. “SIC intends to resume it calendar once the MCO lifts and one of the measures we have proposed to the authorities is a “travel bubble” where international participants will go from the airport to the hotel for a day’s quarantine, then between the hotel and circuit until the event ends,” Shaf said in reference to the Malaysian MotoGP round at the end of this year and the possibility of it being held.
SIC is also looking at revenue streams apart from the traditional motorsports events, with an emphasis on involving the family. “Most often, the gentlemen in the family come to Sepang for the racing or whatever, and the family doesn’t follow simply because there is nothing there for them. We want to change that by making Sepang a family-friendly place, perhaps with a nice cafe and nursery where families can spend time,” said Shaf.
Plans also include a renovation of the Sepang go-kart track and the building of a drive experience centre. “We have called for the tender and once the process concludes we expect to begin work in April,” explained Shaf.
It appears 2021 will be much the same as 2020 for SIC, with travel restrictions and pandemic lockdowns playing havoc with the race calendar both regionally and internationally. “Looking on the bright side, I feel SIC has a key role to play in developing motorsports in the region, as we done in the past, and we will get through this as a team,” Shaf said.
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