It has been announced that the prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will be attending the Asia GT Festival to flag off both the China GT Championship races, as well as the MSF Saga Cup race that will also be running as part of the festival.

The Asia GT Festival runs from March 15 to 17, 2019 at Sepang International Circuit, and the main feature races are the China GT Championship series and the Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF). The China GT series will feature two races per day – Race 1 will be the GT4 category, whilst Race 2 will be the faster GT3 and GTC category.

MSF races meanwhile are spread across four races per day and a total of 13 categories, from the popular and evergreen Saga Cup races, through Street 1600, Street 2000, and Super Street races, to the flat out open-class Masters Unlimited category.

So what are the different classes in China GT? In a nutshell:

  • GT4 class cars are mostly what can be referred to as track day sports cars, which are factory-built race cars available to the public. These include the Lotus Evora GT4, KTM X-Bow GT4 and Porsche Cayman GT4.
  • GTC class cars are cars are taken from one-make series organised by the brands themselves, such as the Porsche Carrera Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo. It is mandatory to add a light parts kit to their specifications, in order to adapt them to Endurance format races and balance their performances. The performance of these GTC cars lies somewhere between GT3 and GT4. Fun fact: Malaysia’s own Dominic Ang races in this class, and came in 3rd overall in the championship in 2018, with his team emerging as champion.
  • GT3 class cars are the fastest of the series. They are based on production road car models in mass production and have a weight between 1200kg and 1300kg with horsepower between 500 hp and 600 hp. These cars range from McLaren 650S GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the Ferrari 488 GT3 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.

Each of the three classes undergo a balance of performance (BoP) that strives to create an equal playing field. For GT sprint races, BoP can be applied as follows: adjustment of front and rear ride height, adjustment of vehicle weight by adding or subtracting weight from the car in the form of clump weight blocks placed in passenger side; adjustment of the size of air restrictor to impact horsepower output; and adjustment of downforce on aerodynamic aids (i.e. rear-wings etc).

MSF race cars on the other hand are based on sedan production vehicles as driven by the the average Joe, such as Toyota Vios, Honda Civic and the Toyota 86, and there are various categories catering to different engine capacities and modification types. Based on street-tuned vehicles, the top cars in the Masters Unlimited category can do a lap time that is almost as quick as the GT4 cars, such is the level of competitiveness and preparation!

The pièce de résistance of this coming round is the Saga Cup, with Tun Dr Mahathir having the pride of flagging off the car that he launched 35 years ago at the circuit that was also launched by him back in 1998.

Tun Dr Mahathir will also be taken for a ride around the Sepang Circuit in the phenomenal electric hyper car the NiO EP9, which will then lead the GT3, GTC, and GT4 cars around a parade lap with the Saga Cup racing cars. The NiO EP9 is blisteringly fast with a 335.25 hp electric motor per wheel for a total of 1341 hp (1360 PS) across all four wheels.

Its gorgeous aerodynamic body pushes almost 2.5 tonnes of downforce at 240 km/h, similar to that of an F1 car and enabling the EP9 to corner at up to 3 gs. The NiO EP9 set an incredible lap time of 6 minutes 45.90 seconds at the infamous Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring in 2017.

Grandstand tickets start at only RM20 and available online or at the gates, whilst access to the MSF paddock is RM35.