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F1 TRACK IN SRI LANKA


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International Motor Race Track in Sri-Lanka

A plan to construct an international standard motor race track in Sri Lanka has been initiated at Tissamaharama in the Hambantota district. The project is expected to complete in three phases and the final deliverable, which is an FIA sanctioned grand prix race circuit is expected to complete by 2010.

Once the project is completed it is expected to contribute positively to the GDP of the country. Further this will generate substantial amount of foreign exchange and employment opportunities for the local youth. This project will complement and mutually benefit with the other major development projects such as proposed Hambantota Sea Port and Weerawila Air Port, planned for the Hambantota district.

This is a similar concept to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Project of Malaysia. Sepang International F1 Circuit is part of the KLIA project, which was proposed in 1994. The circuit is about 260 ha, which started out in September 1997 and was completed in 15 months with a cost of RM286Mn (US$75Mn). The Kuala Lumpur International Air Port was built 40 km away from the mainland and one of the objectives of the Sepang F1 circuit was to promote the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malaysia is the first country in the South East Asia to have a Formula 1 track, second in Asia, with Japan being the first. Formula 1 is currently the third most watched live sporting event, second only to the Olympics and the World Cup. F1 races are televised live to 130 countries with an estimated 330 million viewers. This means for a good one and half-hour, all these eyes will be on one country. Apart from the live coverage, there are 2.5 billion people watching each of its 17 races and research shows that 64% of Formula 1 home viewers are in Asia. Sepang F1 circuit has generated an annual revenue of more than RM1 billion (US$261.78 million) over the years.

According to the initial feasibility study we have identified the Kirindi Oya Live Stock Farm, Jullpallama, Tissamaharama as the best location for the project due to its strategic location and the natural setting. This farm was earlier used by the Mahaweli Authority and now it is dysfunctional. According to a reliable internal source, when this farm was functioning at it?s peak it has given employment for 26 workers and has generated a net profit of Rs.200,000/- per month (approximately) but at the most recent Grand Prix, held at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, US$2.63 billion was added to the Malaysian GDP and 740,000 jobs were created during the period. This is clear indication about the economic and social benefit of the project to the country.

In the first phase a gravel motor race track would be constructed according to FIA specifications. The first race meet is scheduled on 05th & 06th of August 2006 as a Super Cross Meet and will be organized & conducted by the Southern Motor Sports Club (SMSC) in association with D. A. Rajapaksa foundation & the Southern Development Authority. The organizers have selected the Southern Motor Sports Club, the eminent motor sports club of the southern province to conduct this meet, particularly for its ability to organize very high quality race meets of this magnitude. Club?s ability was repeatedly proven in the past with high caliber race meets such as annual Southern Rally, Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb, Ratnapura Speed Road Races & SMSC Keells Hotels Safari Rally 2004, which was an International Standard Motor Rally.

The proposed event is planned to position as the most admired motor sports event in the country and hence, it has named as ?Southern Super Cross 2006? for the President?s Challenge Trophy. His Excellency President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa will give away the President?s Trophy to the winner of the Super Car event.

The circuit is under construction and the entire project planning and the feasibility study was done by a team of local experts. As a result the estimated cost of the project is much less compared to similar projects in the world. The project team carried out a research about other successful Grand Prix circuits in the world and came up with a superb 5.6 Km grand prix track which suits Sri Lankan conditions. According to the vision of H.E. President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa?s, utilizing local resources & expertise in the development projects in the country would benefit the economy of the country as a whole.

Once the project is completed it is expected that this 5.6km track at this circuit to be one of the most challenging tracks in the world, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. The proposed track has 3 straights and 18 corners and the main straight has a distance of about 1.2 Km. The circuit, which contains 3 different configurations, is designed to allow three circuits to operate individually namely grand Prix Circuit 5.6 Km, International Circuit 4.2 Km, and National Circuit 3.4 Km.

The circuit is designed to meet the strictest safety requirements and will be the second FIA-sanctioned circuit to incorporate wide asphalt run-off areas. (Dubai Autodrome is the first one). It is planned to implement a digital surveillance system to provide a complete coverage of all areas of the track and will be linked to the Race/Safety control room for monitoring and saving on hard disk recorders. This means that every incident along the track during a race or event can be viewed by the clerk of the course. Most facilities will be housed in a two-storey ultra modern complex facing the grandstand. These facilities include Pit Complex, Race/Safety Control Room, Timekeeping Room, Media Centre, VIP Suite and Stewards Room. A world-class Medical Centre will be situated behind the Pit area for track emergencies during major events. The Media Centre will be fully equipped with individual ISDN lines, computers and fax machines for the local and international press, while the Pit Complex would encompass 30 individual team garages. At the rear of the Pits is a traditional racing paddock for team staff and hospitality.

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