The Wind Changer (Dato Razlan Razali)

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Pictures: Sepang International Circuit

The team at REV gets on a personal, one-on-one conversation with the man behind the helm of Sepang International Circuit, Dato Razlan Razali, who was in town to promote MotoGP. Dato Razlan is the man responsible for shaping and moulding the future and direction of the world-renowned Malaysian racing circuit.

How did you turn Sepang around after becoming CEO?
I think one of my biggest changes came by looking at changing mindsets and operations.  When I took on the reigns as CEO, I changed the way we looked at the track.  I needed the team to see the total venue capabilities, showing them that we could monetize the spaces we had and this proved successful.  We turned a profit within 12-months of operations. Today, we position Sepang is a multi faceted ballroom under the sky.

Very few racing venues around the world are profitable. What is Sepang’s secret?
I think we caught on that races themselves may not sustain us, hence why we looking at offering a total spectator experience from support races, retail with our Mega MotoGP Carnival and the race itself making race weekend a family affair.  Off-season, the venue is used for everything from car shows, to concerts and even weddings.

How has Sepang International Circuit evolved since it’s opening in 1999?  Combined with off the typical topic of motorsports related activities at Sepang, what are some of the less-common kind of events that the circuit has hosted?
We have grown to become a 360 venue; our versatility is unsurpassed by any venue in Malaysia at this time.  SIC has and always will have our roots in motorsports. However, the venue is designed for more than that. We have hosted large-scale concerts, world-class exhibitions and even a wedding. We are looking at more event management and organisers from not only in Malaysia but also across the globe considering the capabilities of the venue. We will be organising marketing activities, which will include promotions and venue walkthroughs for event professionals. Ultimately, we want organisers to think of the Sepang International Circuit when planning their events.

We have noted some renovation changes to the circuit in recent times. What are some of the future plans for the circuit and how will it change the experience of future drivers and audiences?
We are consistently upgrading facilities to improve drivers and spectator experiences. Upgrading the circuit is one of our main focuses, we have started with our SIC Commercial Park allowing space and garage for rent to our partners and even an office space for those planning to be based out of Sepang. In future, we are looking at refurbishing and upgrading the existing 1,100m CIK category C karting track and its facilities. We are also in planning to develop an off road and safety driving facility.

What are some of the planned activities in store? Will there be any new race series that readers and avid motorsports fans can look forward to?
Apart from our three main races the Formula 1, WSBK which we brought into Malaysia (the only one in Asia this year), together with the ever popular MotoGP, we have our local races such as the Malaysian Super Series, Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, Sepang Drag Battle, Sepang1000km, Sepang 3 Hours endurance, we also have the KBS-MAM Kapcai Endurance and also international racing events such as the Asia Festival of Speed (AFOS), the Ferrari Racing Days, Lamborghini Super Trofeo which will take place in November this year and other support races such as Porsche Carrera Cup. These grassroots, private and world championship events have chosen Sepang to hold their events.

How important is the Singapore crowd to the MotoGP?
Singaporeans accounted for about 5% of out the 126,917 spectators over 3-days in 2013.  Overall spectatorship has consistently risen year on year since 2007.  Hopefully we will see more Singaporeans in Sepang this year.  It is also encouraging to see young Singaporean talent race in the inaugural Shell Advance Asian Talent Cup, which we hope will encourage more fans from the Lion City to head on over to Sepang to support your local riders.

The Iskandar circuit looks likely to vie for a round of MotoGP or World Superbikes racing; is there a chance that Sepang could lose those events?
There is always a chance that we may lose events to other circuits, that we is why we are consistently looking at improving ourselves – from the circuit to operations.  Sepang Circuit has been organising events since 1999; we have the capabilities and the know-how to run events successfully.

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