A look back at the 8 Hours of Sepang
The first edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang made a big impact. A look back at the new FIM EWC race in Malaysia and its lead players.
Hats off to the hero of the extraordinary first edition of the race. Niccolò Canepa, YART Yamaha’s Italian rider, has a particularly vivid memory of the finish of the 8 Hours of Sepang. “After I’d crossed the finish line, I was amazed to see the entire paddock turn out to congratulate me when I entered parc ferme! It was only then that I realized just how crazy a race I’d just wrapped up.”
Robin Mulhauser, Moto Ain’s Swiss rider, fondly recalls the team’s win in the Superstock class. “I really enjoyed the podium ceremony. We were handed the most beautiful cups we’ve ever received! I was familiar with the circuit, but it was the first time I’d seen the magnificent Sepang track at night, with perfect lighting.”
Sepang track wins unanimous acclaim
The first endurance race in Malaysia, held by day and by night under the new floodlights of the Sepang International Circuit, drew praise from the entire paddock.
“It’s the championship’s most beautiful circuit,” says Team ERC Endurance rider Louis Rossi.
“It’s one of the finest tracks, together with Suzuka, because it’s legendary and very diverse,” adds Webike SRC Kawasaki France rider Erwan Nigon.
JEG Racing Team rider Gregory Leblanc has a similar reaction: “It’s a magnificent track with plenty of fast corners and height differences. Fantastic!”
“It’s a really great track, I can’t wait to get back next year,” confesses Webike SRC Kawasaki France’s Spanish rider David Checa. “It’s such a pleasure to race in December with a temperature of 27°C and with MotoGP riders.”
Great racing moments
British rider Gino Rea, a member of the Polish team Wójcik Racing Team, vividly remembers the race. “I was on the track with Franco Morbidelli, one of the top riders in MotoGP currently, and it was incredible to qualify a few tenths from him in second place.”
Jérémy Guarnoni, a Webike SRC Kawasaki France rider, enjoyed another of the 8 Hours of Sepang’s racing particularities. “The Top 10 Trial is extraordinary. I thought it was brilliant and I hope we’ll see it at other EWC races.“ The Top 10 Trial has the fastest riders of the top 10 teams in qualifying return to the track for a flying lap. The top 10 spots on the starting grid are then reassigned based on their performances. The Top 10 Trial also features at the Suzuka 8 Hours.
A successful first-time double-header at Sepang
Last December at Sepang – for the first time in Malaysia – the Races of Malaysia double-header successfully paired motorcycles and cars, combining the second race of the 2019-2020 FIM EWC and the season finale of the 2019 FIA WTCR championship. The event was a major first and made a big impact.
The double-header, a first for Malaysia, was acclaimed by participants in both sports. The Sepang International Circuit track, both fast and technical, and flawlessly floodlit for the night races, drew praise across the board, from both the car and motorcycle racers. The car and motorcycle races were held on separate days, thereby enabling the drivers and riders to cheer each other on during their respective practice sessions and races at Sepang.
All the racers were very impressed with the non-racing events involving both the FIM EWC and the FIA WTCR. A meet-up at the foot of the Petronas Towers in the heart of the Malaysian capital followed by a big car and motorcycle parade through the city’s streets set the tone on the Tuesday evening. The “kinda crazy parade through the Kuala Lumpur streets with a police escort,” will remain a lasting memory for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team rider Gregg Black. “It was a great moment,” says F.C.C. TSR Honda France rider Mike di Meglio. “It was brilliant riding through the Kuala Lumpur streets on my race bike, it was like a dream come true,” says Moto Ain rider Robin Mulhauser, another of the participants in the huge procession of fourteen FIM EWC bikes and eight of the cars competing in the WTCR organized in downtown Kuala Lumpur on the Tuesday evening by SIC and Malaysia’s Tourism Ministry.
Another major event will also be remembered by all for a long time to come, i.e. the big party for all the car and motorcycle teams on the Sunday – a very lively evening at the Sepang International Circuit.