Karting: Finally, there's a race track

In two months, Singapore will have its first permanent, world-class karting facility ready for racing.

The new 960-metre KF1 Karting Circuit in Kranji was unveiled at the Singapore Turf Club yesterday, and the facility plans to host a world championship karting event in the near future.

Before that, though, the track will help feed a growing demand from racing enthusiasts, especially after plans for a permanent track in Changi were scrapped last year.

"This karting facility really helps motorsport in Singapore," said Colin Syn, deputy chairman of Singapore GP Pte Ltd, promoters for the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Marina Bay.

"I mean, other than our F1 street circuit, what else did we have? In a way, this replaces the Changi race track.

"Karting is the cheapest form of racing and it's how almost everyone gets in racing.

"Hopefully, with this new track, more kids can get involved in the sport."

The KF1 Karting Circuit is owned by Arina Holding International, a construction company headed by businessman Richard Tan, who has been running the KF1 Corporate Challenge karting event - held a week before the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix - here since 2011.

It is designed by world-renowned German engineer, Hermann Tilke, who has been involved with more than 65 tracks worldwide, including the Formula 1 circuits of Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Bahrain and Texas.


Costing $2 million, the facility features F1-style team garages with individual shutter doors in its 80m-long paddock building.

The circuit is designed to enable karts to hit a top speed of 100kmh on the straight, and can also be reconfigured into two separate tracks, enabling two races simultaneously.

Tan hopes to have the track ready in time for this year's Singapore Airlines Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place from Sept 19 to 21.

Thereafter, plans to host world karting championships will be worked on.

"The first priority is to get the facility up and running," said Tan, who also funded the $1.5 million, state-of-the-art Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang,

"Of course, staging world championships is something we want, but we have to get the local community involved with the track first.

"If the track is good, then everything will fall into place. Race promoters and organisers will be attracted to stage international events here."

Tilke has no doubt that the circuit is conducive for world-class races, pointing out the characteristics that make it different from other tracks around the world.

"The track has various points of elevation, which makes it very interesting to race on," he said.

"It is designed so that it can be driven both clockwise and anti-clockwise, meaning it can be two different tracks.

"From a sporting view, it's important to have this new karting facility in Singapore.

"Without karting, it is difficult to develop the sport of motor racing in any country."


A Grand Prix like no other

Racing fans can expect a wide range of entertainment on the sidelines of the 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street Circuit from Sept 19 to 21.

This includes three new stages, a brand new dining concept and an expanded entertainment line-up comprising 49 acts from 20 countries, including Zone 4 and Zone 1 headliners Jennifer Lopez, Robbie Williams, Mayday, John Legend, Pet Shop Boys and Ziggy Marley.

To complement the action on the track, Singapore GP have introduced three new stages this year, bringing the total number of stages within the 799,000sqm Circuit Park to nine.

The new Sail Stage is within Zone 1's F1 Village and features a seven-metre high canopy that will be home to theatrical performances by Torque and Ilana Yahav.

At Zone 4, the new Coyote Stage will feature performances by Seasick Steve and theatrical production Lady in the Moon.

The new White Bar Stage is in Zone 4, where the Padang Stage, Esplanade Park Stage and the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre are also located.

"We were thrilled to receive excellent feedback from our patrons on their overall experience at the Marina Bay Street Circuit last year," said Michael Roche, executive director, Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

"People are coming in through our gates earlier to fully maximise their time in the Circuit Park, indicating that fans have come to appreciate our entertainment programming over the years.

"This September will be no different. Fans can look forward to new entertainment precincts and dining concepts, a specially curated entertainment line-up which includes some musical gems, and an 'extreme circus cabaret' act.

"So ticket holders have plenty to see and do from the minute they enter our gates."

Race promoters Singapore GP also announced on Wednesday that the Marina Bay Street Circuit will welcome the Masters Historic Formula 1 cars, which will race for the first time under lights in Singapore.

This article was first published on August 1, 2014.
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