Sepang will host a "twilight" race until 2015, begining at 5 pm, said circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir. The proposed night event, already hosted by Singapore and Dubai, would have required costly new floodlighting.
AFP - Malaysian Grand Prix organisers said Thursday they will host a "twilight" race until 2015, saying that a proposed night event would require new floodlighting that was too costly.
Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chairman Mokhzani Mahathir said that Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had agreed to a start time of 5:00 pm, two hours later than previously.
"We have amended the contract. The race will start at 5:00 pm. It is another way of saying that there will be no night race until 2015," he told reporters.
Mokhzani said the new race time will still enable fans in Europe to watch the race scheduled for April 5, and was expected to attract more locals to the track in the cooler late afternoon.
It will be the second race for the 2009 season after Australia. The start time for the Melbourne race will also be 5:00 pm.
Mokhzani said the cost of lighting up the Sepang circuit was "prohibitive" in the current global economic environment.
"Bernie said to me that 'we will no longer raise the issue'. I told him that we are facing an economic crisis. The night race may or may not attract more people to the circuit," he said.
Mokhzani said however that despite the global economic gloom, some 120,000 people are expected at the Sepang circuit this year.
"We are experiencing an economic slowdown. But we are offering attractive packages and activities to attract spectators," he said.
Malaysia held its first Grand Prix in 1999. Under a new contract signed last year, in which it agreed to be prepared to do night racing, Malaysia will continue to host races until 2015.
Last year neighbouring Singapore hosted the first F1 night race, while Dubai will make its debut this year.
Date created : 2009-02-19