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Cost would be a factor for night race at Sepang

NEWS STORY
22/05/2007

As Bernie Ecclestone continues his quest for a night race, officials in Malaysia have admitted that cost would be a factor.

"Staging an F1 race is an expensive affair for the government," said the country's minister for youth and sport, Azalina Othman Said, in a masterpiece of understatement, "we have to see how well we can benefit from the event and what kind of development it can bring to motorsport in the country.

"Ultimately our dream is to see more Malaysian F1 drivers in Formula One racing," she added.

Meanwhile, Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman of the Sepang International Circuit, has revealed that feasibility studies are already being carried out.

"We are actually studying what kind of light would be suitable, the security aspects, which will certainly be our top priority, and a few other things before anything can be firmed up," he told Malaysia's Bernama news agency.

Earlier this month Singapore announced that it will host the first night race when it enters the F1 schedule next year, providing the necessary safety requirements are met. However, Ecclestone is seeking further night races in the east in an attempt to increase TV viewing figures in Europe, the sport's traditional heartland.

At the weekend, Ecclestone warned that Melbourne must become a night race or risk losing its place on the calendar, a move which has not been well received, especially as race fans have traditionally had to stay up all night merely to watch race highlights, assuming they're being broadcast in the first place.

Malaysia, now under pressure following the addition of Singapore to the F1 calendar, has a contract until 2010. In addition to checking out the feasibility of a night race, organizers at Sepang have to give the eight-year-old track a spring clean after complaints from Ecclestone that it looks "shabby" and requires a "tidy up".

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