Alex Yoong To Run A1 Grand Prix Team For Malaysia
Beginning in September 2005, a brand new top level motorsport series, the A1 Grand Prix, will start a one-make championship that is expected to involve a minimum of 23 countries competing against each other in at least ten races in the winter months between September and March, during the period when Formula One takes a breaks - and Malaysia's former Formula One driver, Alex Yoong, will be running a team after securing the franchise for Malaysia recently.
The new series which is dubbed the World cup of Motorsport was set up with the aim of establishing the first world cup of Motorsport amongst nations. It offers businesses the opportunity to buy the national franchise for their country of origin that then allows them to run a single car in the A1 GP race series. China, Lebanon, Pakistan, Portugal, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada together with Malaysia are the 9 countries which have finalised their franchise agreements with the organisers so far with another 6 countries in an advanced state of negotiations.
The aim is to capture the imagination and support of national audiences and inspire the type of national pride traditionally associated with the Olympic Games. To underline the national element, drivers must have family roots in the country they drive for and the cars draped in their national colors.
Yoong has complete confidence that the series is just what the Motorsport industry needs right now.
"I think what they're doing is brilliant. As soon as I have read their complete plans, I immediately warmed to the idea. It's never been tried before on this scale at this top level. The way they have gone about it and the support they are receiving from the various national teams' respective governments as a result, were very evident at the launches held so far in Dubai, London and South African," said Yoong who was at the South African launch officiated by President Mbeki recently at Johannesburg.
Alex is confident that this will be the perfect vehicle to significantly increase the awareness of auto racing in his native Malaysia and help up and coming Malaysian talent who is chasing the Formula One dream.
"The A1GP will indeed reinforce Malaysia's efforts to promote Motorsports," he said. Formula One competes at the country's Sepang circuit every March and while it gets its fair share of spectators, the A1GP will increase the grass root activities in the development of Motorsports in the country as it offers another avenue at a high level besides Formula One.
The series will be running up to 30 identical single-seater racing cars built by Lola International. The car weighs only 600 kg and is fitted with Langford Performance Engineering 3.5 litre 520 bhp engine.
Yoong also intimated that he will be concentrating on the buisness aspect of the A1 GP project at this point as it is important to get the right levels of support from Malaysian sponsors. "It goes without saying that results will be important, and so we will be doing everything we can to get the best people to fill the key roles within the team. Another one of our prorities will be grooming future Malaysian talants, whether they are mechanics, engineers, team managers or drivers. Throughout the next 6 months we will be identifying potential team members to fill out those positions within the team. There will be a main driver and a reserve driver that will attend each A1 Grand Prix round and we will only confirm who they will be by around mid 2005."
"We need to get it structured right before we even think of that, but A1GP is more about national pride and winning for Malaysia."
In addition, the Malaysian A1 GP franchise holder, will also be looking at running a Formula BMW team or something similar in order to introduce a step ladder system whereby aspiring Malaysian drivers/mechanics/engineers will get a chance to learn their respective craft before graduating to the A1 GP or to Formula One.
Yoong's days of racing in under funded and significantly less competitive teams are now over and he wishes to concentrate on the business side of the series in support of the A1GP founder, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum and the A1 team. The A1GP team, had in conjunction with expert consultants, first studied existing and past Motorsport competitions in detail to discover what worked well and where there is room for improvement.
They then devised a sound business model based on franchising that also takes account of the varying levels of sponsorship available in different countries and ensures parity of rate of return on franchisee investment across a range of economic environments. Using this model, A1 Grand Prix has created a new business that is dedicated to making international Motorsport competition commercially viable at the highest level.
Come September next year the world will be treated with the exciting visuals and commentary of which country is making that audacious overtaking manoeuvre, of countries battling for the lead and of one of the countries winning the A1 Grand Prix over TV broadcasts to more than 100 nations and spectating exciting live racing by the tens of thousands cheering for their respective countries in each of the 10 organising nations. Full information on the A1 GP are available from www.a1gp.com.