It is now official.
Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, who is also a shareholder and director of McLaren Automotive, announced the joint-venture agreement between FASTrack Autosports Pte Ltd and UEM Land Berhad for the development of Motorsports City in Gerbang Nusajaya. FASTrack Autosports owns 70 per cent of the Motorsports City joint-venture, with the remaining 30 per cent belonging to UEM Land. The entire project is estimated to cost RM 3.5 billion.
“This is an interesting project and something I love. I think I can build a fairly sound business model and I think the Motorsports City project will take off here in Malaysia, said Mr Lim at the press conference this morning.
Reasons for Mr Lim choosing to build a motorsports hub in Malaysia instead of Singapore include “the high costs of business in Singapore” and “the availability of labour in Malaysia”.
Prior to the press conference, there was an exchange of documents witnessed by The Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak at the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum in Johor.
FASTrack Autosports is a Singaporean company controlled by Mr Lim, in partnership with the Johor Royal Family, with Barry Kan as the CEO. Kan is a 30-year veteran in Singapore’s automotive industry and the former managing director of the Prestige Division of Wearnes Automotive.
Situated just 10 to 15 minutes from the Tuas second link, the Motorsports City will span across 270 acres of land and is designed with the 4S in mind – Sales, Service, System and Spare. Featuring a 4.5-kilometre Grade 2 GT double loop circuit, the integrated multi-purpose motorsports hub will have a 1.2-kilometre go-kart circuit and off-road circuit for drag racing, motorcycling, truck racing and off-road expeditions.
There will also be car showrooms, a driving school, bonded warehouses and garages, motorsports R&D centres, museum and collector storage facilities, weekend homes, a clubhouse, a car bar and other F&B and entertainment outlets.
This means motoring enthusiasts can race, repair and store their cars; learn and test drive the latest models from showrooms, while manufacturers can showcase and test their products. Driver training and research facilities are included too. The 8.5 million square feet of gross floor area will cater for corporate events, conferences and motoring exhibitions.
Promising over 5,000 job opportunities, land will be allocated over time for the construction of a mini-township comprising houses, apartments, shopping malls and other amenities to cater to those living and working in the Iskandar region.
Two of the world’s leading designers of motor circuits have also been approached for the project. Herman Tilke, German engineer and racer who has designed numerous Formula One circuits, expressed excitement when he saw the topography and instantly saw the potential of a ‘Nurburgring of Iskandar Malaysia’.
It was revealed that a top kart manufacturer will set up a plant and sales centre at the Motorsports City and a driving school will be run by a well-known race-car manufacturer with classes on safe driving, circuit and mechanical conditions, control of car in slippery conditions, demonstration of braking and weight transfer, and autocross laps.
The Motorsports City will be the third permanent circuit in Malaysia, after Sepang International Circuit and the J Circuit at Pasir Gudang.
“We never intended to compete with Sepang. We are different from them. We intend to use different terrains and we are targeting drivers who enjoy trunk roads and B-roads. We will concentrate on GT cars and motorbikes, as well as go-karts, and not specific to single-seaters,” said Mr Kan.
Dato’ Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim of UEM Land is keen to get this project started, which is only one of the many developments planned for Nusajaya, located in one of the five flagship zones of Iskandar, Johor.
He said, “The next step is to submit detailing plans to the authorities. We foresee that work on the ground should commence in three to six months’ time. The Phase 1 completion period is expected to take about two and a half years and we target Motorsports City to be operational by 2016. We certainly want to do this fast.”
The Motorsports City is Mr Lim’s second project in the Iskandar region after Vantage Bay, a RM10 billion integrated development in Johor Bahru. The waterfront Vantage Bay is a gated city with its own hospital to be managed by Singapore’s Thomson Medical Hospital, as well as apartments, hotels, shopping malls, convention centres and office buildings.
After the disappointment of the Changi Motorsports Hub – that was planned but never materialised – the Motorsports City by Mr Lim is certainly a fresh breath of air for drivers in Singapore who have recently been plagued by the high COE premiums and harsh penalties on vehicle modifications.
Former Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton appeared briefly at the press conference before heading back to Singapore with Mr Lim for a student interaction session with ITE College West.