Channel NewsAsia

Singapore to get top-notch karting track

Businessman Richard Tan gets lease for Woodlands site with World Championship capability.

SINGAPORE: Singapore will soon boast a world-class 950-metre karting track capable of hosting world championships. TODAY has learnt that the international-standard track on the western fringes of the Singapore Turf Club (STC) grounds at Woodlands will be completed by mid-September.

Based on STC’s tender documents, the new circuit will be built by Arina International Holding, a construction company. It will be the second permanent karting track here, after the opening of the 750m Kartright Speedway in Jurong in 2010.

The site at Jurong, however, is unable to host international championships as the sport’s world governing body CIK-FIA’s regulations require that competition tracks are at least 800m in length.

The Turf Club leased the plot of land to Arina in April for three years at a cost of S$450,000, with an option for another three.

Arina is headed by Mr Richard Tan, who has been running the KF1 Corporate Challenge karting event – usually held a week before the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – here since 2011.

Mr Tan declined to be interviewed, but it is believed he aims to get the track ready before this year’s Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place from Sept 19 to 21.

“He wants to time the opening around when the motor racing season hits the country, and get some F1 drivers who will be in town by then to kart at the track,” a source close to him told TODAY.

“Richard operates a construction company and the only major works needed to get the facility ready on time are building the paddock area and resurfacing the track.” It will cost Mr Tan, added the source, about S$1.5 million on top of the land cost.

This is not the businessman’s first foray into the world of sport.

In 2011, he funded the building of the S$1.5 million, state-of-the-art Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang, after the nearby original building had closed down three years earlier. An ardent badminton player, he also sponsored national shuttlers Danny Wong and Terry Yeo to the tune of S$10,000 each in 2012.

Mr Tan runs Arina Hogan Builders, which helped set up the track lighting of the Marina Bay street circuit for the Singapore Grand Prix. The company also put up temporary facilities for golf’s Barclays Singapore Open, HSBC Women’s Championships at Tanah Merah Golf Club and the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

But like the badminton hall, the karting track in Woodlands is a personal investment and Mr Tan is banking on the ever-growing wave of motorsport’s popularity, which has increased since the inaugural F1 night race was held here in 2008.

The Woodlands facility will feed a growing demand from racing enthusiasts, especially after plans for a permanent track in Changi were scrapped last year in the wake of investors running out of money.

Singapore ace racing driver Ringo Chong told TODAY karting is a key building block for a racing driver, and that the new facility is an important step to continue in the development of local talent. “It is the ABC of driving that all the top drivers in the world, especially in F1, start with,” said Mr Chong, who was the 1984 national karting champion and will be racing in the Carrera Cup at the Singapore Grand Prix in September.

“If you don’t start in karting, you are unlikely to make the cut in motor racing. It is where you learn from mistakes and hone your skills before getting behind the wheel of faster machines.”

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