In the final installment of the three-part Super GT special series, here is my opinion after the conclusion of the event. The only round outside Japan and an annual event since 2002, the Super GT has been one of the landmark events for Malaysian Motorsport arena and right now it is run by a third party organizer, JPM Motorsports, previously by the Sepang circuit management themselves. JPM is no stranger for motorsports in Malaysia, having organized previous successful events like Bukit Tinggi Hill climb, Integra One Make series cup, participated in MME endurance races and so on. It is owned by one of Malaysia’s biggest petrol heads, JP Chin and his sons who owned a variety of exotic supercars here.
The Super GT in Malaysia has gone ups and downs over the years, including some idiotic ministers threaten to ban this event due to some unpleasant elements from the sexy GT race queens. Waning spectator figures, Japan’s slumping economy, and the interest from Singapore to host this event did however threaten the future of Super GT in Malaysia. This however changed after JPM Motorsports took over the event organization with a signed deal for two years from 2011-2012.
I’m glad to say that after last weekend’s Super GT in Sepang, I strongly concur that the Super GT event has every rights to stay in Malaysia.
Let me start with the huge improvements they made in the 2012 event. I do admit the 2011 edition has improved compared to the previous years but still plenty of room for improvement. However JPM Motorsports took feedback very seriously and fixed many of last year’s shortcomings. Among them are the race marshal’s discipline issues where there has been a lot of complaints on these irresponsible race marshals overused their powers by interrupting the public during pit walkabout sessions, and these marshals were snapping pictures of cars and GT race queens themselves. This has been fixed when the organizers enforced a stricter rules for race marshals by not allowing them to interfere during Pit Walkabout session, hence those with pit pass were able to enjoy the activities in the pit without unwanted interference.
Good and aggressive marketing campaign from JPM also brought massive interest from the public and for the second year running, they organized a GT Race Queen search among the locals and the winner will become the Super GT Ambassador together with her counterpart from Japan, promoting and cheering the event in Malaysia. I should praise their marketing department as the race day event, the crowd attendance was massive, around 40-60k visitors easily which is way more than the Super GT events of previous years. Total crowd for the entire weekend was estimated at 80,000, which easily matches the Moto GP figures and 20k shy from Formula One. That’s only judging from the crowd in the main grandstands only.
Logistics is equally important as to get the audiences from car parks into the circuit area without fuss and the organizers managed to get a few Rapid KL shutter buses to ferry those from car parks into the circuit entrance. I wonder why Sepang Circuit organisers didn’t approach this fundamental idea a few years ago?
One of the main things you need in order to run a successful motor sports event is to entertain your spectators. That is to have plenty of side activities, and food and beverage for the audiences and JPM has done relatively well on this aspect. There are plenty of side events which audiences can spend some time and money to amuse themselves, but the highlight for this year’s edition is the auto show. It was a vibrant event with plenty of marques such as Ford, Alfa Romeo, Hyundai, Land Rover, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, Ferrari and even motorcycle makers like Harley, KTM, Ducati and so on.
Subaru and Hyundai took this chance to launch their new cars, the new Subaru Impreza and Hyundai Veloster respectively, since launching sport cars on a popular motor sport event is indeed a good idea. Not to mention there plenty of automotive products on display from Ultra Racing, Eneos, Motul, M7 and many more, all under one huge roof. If I’m honest, I admit I spent almost an hour snapping pictures, and viewing exotics (both machine and show girls, oh well…) in that area. Not to mention there are few rare exotics on display by the kind people who is willing to showcase their machines. From a yellow Ford GT40, Jaguar E type to a yellow Lamborghini Avendator. Entirely, I admit this is way better and more enjoyable than the KL International Motorshow in 2010, which I admit was crap. Audiences enjoyed their time in the motorshow and the side activities.
As the only event so far to embrace the Touch and Go card for all transactions, this year’s event was smoother after lessons learnt from last year’s event. The “Akihabara Town” in the mall area deserve some mentioning too. Also worth mentioning is the 608 sports cars they managed to gathered into the track which is massive, yet no untoward accidents unlike last year’s imfamous fiasco.
Having plenty of side races like the exciting GT Asia cup was great, although the Toyota Vios/Yaris race was an excuse for the spectators to go for lunch/toilet break. But towards the end of the day after the podium ceremony from the Super GT races ended, I believe almost every 80,000 people who left the track with smiles on their faces. Will they consider coming back again next year? Why not? Perhaps if the PA which still needs to be fixed or changed especially on the main grandstands and with adding a few TV screens to showcase the race like in F1, I would have rated my Super GT event this year as perfect.
Should Super GT stays in Malaysia for 2013 and beyond? 絶対に!