2016 Sepang International Circuit renovation - 1

The Sepang Drag Battle series will not be taking place this year, as it has been removed from Sepang International Circuit’s 2016 calendar. Sepang Drag Battle, which made its debut in 2003, is the only drag race held at a racing circuit and sanctioned by the Automobile Association of Malaysia.

“We have had to take the race, which has a good following, off the 2016 calendar with immediate effect as we cannot afford to damage the newly resurfaced track. The decision was made based on advice from Italian track consultant Dromo, which led the upgrading works. The new track composition is not conducive for high impact events such as drag races, and we do not want to endanger track users,” said Datuk Razlan Razali, CEO of SIC.

SIC’s resurfacing and upgrading exercise, which cost close to RM15 million, involved the entire 5.543 km track, including improving corner driveability, upgrading the drainage system, the kerbs and the run-off area, as well as upgrading the shortcuts.

Sepang International Circuit SIC (1)

“The racetrack comprises elements such as asphalt concrete which is not appropriate for drag racing. Proper drag racing requires surface characteristics that are totally different, more specifically concrete covered with a special type of glue. Based on our inspection of the track prior to the resurfacing, we recognised several oil spills as a result of drag races, and this would cause severe damage if drag racing were to be continued on the newly upgraded track,” explained Jarno Zafelli, Dromo’s head of circuit design.

In view of this, SIC is studying the possibility of building a new track for drag racing within the circuit grounds, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. “We have contended that racing should be kept off our highways and byways, but we also understand the need for speed. Therefore, just as we have carefully upgraded the current track to meet stringent FIA and FIM international standards, we are looking to provide a purpose-built facility for drag participants to race in,” Razlan said.

“The Ministry of Youth and Sports is in support of drag race enthusiasts having an outlet that is safe and specially catered for this sport. We subscribe to the need for a race circuit that meets the requirements of a drag race track and the highest measures of safety,” a ministry spokesman said.

The refreshed SIC track was reopened on May 8 after a nearly three-month closure.