Sepang International Circuit is a Joke!

Sepang International Circuit is located about 60 km from downtown Kuala Lumpur.  It was built in the late 90’s and each year it is hosting some pretty spectacular races, the most prestigious being the Formula 1 and the MotoGP.

I have only ever attended the Formula 1 once and there’s a number of reasons for that.  The most important reason is that I am too stingy.  The good grand stand tickets are probably around US$ 400-500 a piece and the shitty ones perhaps $ 200 or so.  If watching the race is important (which to me it is) then the absolute best seats would be the grass hill at the back of the track, but that means being exposed to weather and that in Sepang means one of two – either getting soaked or getting baked (there is no in between – it is one of those!).  So – quite frankly – I watch this one on TV.

MotoGP (and the A1 when that was still on) is another matter.  The tickets are reasonable and more important – numbered seats are not used.  This means that you basically get access to whereever you want on the grand stand for less than US$ 50.

There is a limit to how much one can complain when the tickets are priced that reasonable, but still – this is a circuit that is hosting prestigious international events and quite frankly the place is a joke.

The joke starts about 1 km from the track.  For some bizarre reason (and this has been the case at least the last 3-4 years) no cars or buses are allowed to drive up to the track.  We always arrange a bus to go to the track and the closest we can get is the point marked “A” on the following map:

As you can see, Google estimate that walk to be 1.1 km.  Now, look at that map.  Assuming you have grand stand tickets that is at least another km walk to get to the grand stand.  More than 2 km walk in 40 degrees (and those degrees are the Celsius kind).  It should be stressed here that the road leading up to the track entrance is a 4 lane highway, so it would be absolutely no problem letting at least buses take that road and drop people of right outside the entrance.  But no – in their wisdom (or serious lack thereof), the race organizers block of that 4 lane highway so only motorcycles and pedestrians are allowed in.  With the result that I have had to jump for my life at least a couple of times, because of some idiot on a bike thinking it’s fun to go 100 mph on that empty road.

Before you find a seat you better buy some food.  I should mention here that they do check your bags before they let you in and you’re not allowed to bring any outside food or drinks.  Unfortunately whatever food is available inside the track is a scandal – no less.  This year we decided to buy a hot dog after the first race (that is the first race out of the 3 scheduled ones – about 1.30 pm or thereabouts).  We didn’t decide on the hot dog because it was attractive but because it was the shortest queue – only about half an hour.  This is what a RM 15 (that is US$5!) Hot Dog – Sepang style – looks like:

It is not that I don’t like ketchup – they were out of it.  They were out of everything else too – except sausages and bread (and whatever that white stuff was).  Whoever sold that – ahem – thing – should price himself lucky that I wasn’t the one queuing because I would have punched them in the face.  This is quite simply robbery – nothing less.

After the first race and after I threw the above – ahem – thing – out the rain started.  This is a good time to repeat that we had grand stand tickets and while they are not that expensive for the MotoGP they are the most expensive ones there is.  Also I should repeat that during MotoGP you can pretty much sit where you like, while during F1 they use numbered seats.  Personally I like the view from the back side grand stand (watching the back half of the circuit but without the pit lane in the way).  This is what happened at that covered grand stand when it started to rain (and by Malaysian standard it wasn’t heavy rain – more sort of a drizzle):

To the other side:

I’d say I would have been pretty pissed had I bought one of those seats during an F1 race (and those seats for that event would probably be around US$300 a piece).

The day did offer some great racing albeit short (last two races red flagged half way because of rain) and all that was remaining was the 2 km walk through the rain to find our bus.