A street race in the heart of the city, showcasing the beauty and wonder of an Asian destination – that’s the perfect model for V8 Supercars racing in Asia, according to CEO James Warburton.
This week’s KL City Grand Prix will see race cars – including five V8 Supercars, in Malaysia for a demonstration – weave through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, below the iconic Petronas Twin Towers on a tight, tricky street circuit.
Even today traffic flows through that part of the city, which also houses foreign embassies – but tomorrow it will be a fully blown race track.
KL City Grand Prix CEO M Arrasu has said the central street race model has generated interest from neighbouring cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila – and for Warburton, it is the ideal model moving forward for both V8 Supercars and the destination of choice.
“We’ve had some fantastic racing overseas but it has tended to be on Formula One style circuits where there’s a lot of wide tracks, where our cars are extremely well-suited to the rough and tumble of the concrete canyons and the street circuits,” Warburton told v8supercars.com.au.
“Our cars will be spectacular here through the city – the noise reverberating off the buildings.
“The amount of attention walking around with a V8 Supercars shirt on has been quite extraordinary. So from that perspective I have no doubt the event will be a very strong event.”
Warburton is confident an appearance at this week’s event will generate even more enthusiasm for V8 Supercars internationally.
“We’re fielding a lot of interest now we’re in the region putting on a demo, performing – if you like – in front of other sanction holders. So we are confident it will lead to more events outside of Australia.”
Racing in Asia means increased relevance and accessibility for fans, teams and sponsors – particularly running in a timezone that is convenient for those in Australia to tune in. While international expansion is a focus for Warburton, the event needs to be right and the category will remain an Australian Championship, ideally with a handful of feature races overseas.
“From a manufacturing point of view the [Asian] region is critically important from that perspective, so again there’s been really strong interest from the majority of our manufacturers around the fact that we’re on the bill, so to speak, in Asia,” Warburton said.
“Malaysia, particularly, is a really good example of a great, well-saturated motorsport market that will love what we do.”
This week’s challenge on the streets of Kuala Lumpur is a positive way to showcase V8 Supercars as one of the starring attractions next year, but Warburton and his team have plenty of ideas to generate attention for overseas feature events.
“How do we market from home? One of the discussions we had with these guys was to have a wildcard at Bathurst, have some Malaysian drivers and build interest … I think there’s a number of strategies to do that, like a possibility next year to run a Malaysian wildcard in the series.”
The V8 Supercars will hit the track tomorrow, with Holden hero Craig Lowndes the first to cut laps around the street track, ahead of two practice sessions for the category.