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No night race in Malaysia

NEWS STORY
20/02/2009

Organizers of the Malaysia GP have dismissed the idea of following Singapore's example and holding the race at night, claiming that the costs are prohibitive.

In an attempt to appease Bernie Ecclestone, organizers of the race have followed Melbourne's example and moved the event so that it starts at 17.00, thereby ensuring better viewing figures in Europe - F1's heartland - where the race is traditionally shown in the early hours of the morning.

However, holding the race even later, thereby meaning that it would be shown at an even more convenient time in Europe is not economically viable. Sepang International Circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir has admitted that the cost of lighting the Sepang track, a-la Singapore ,would be "prohibitive".

"We have amended the contract," Mahathir told AFP. "The race will start at 5.00pm. It is another way of saying that there will be no night race until 2015."

When a new deal was signed, which will see Sepang retain the Grand Prix until 2015, it was on the condition that the race would be held at night. Mahathir is convinced that the about-turn will not jeopardise the deal.

"Bernie said to me that 'we will no longer raise the issue'. I told him that we are facing an economic crisis. The night race may or may not attract more people to the circuit."

While the 17.00 start should help European TV figures it is hoped that it might also attract more locals to the event, the cooler late afternoon temperatures more conducive to sitting in a grandstand watching cars go round and round than the unforgiving humidity just a couple of hours earlier.

"We are experiencing an economic slowdown," admitted Mahathir. "But we are offering attractive packages and activities to attract spectators."

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