High-tech Bt2-billion Chang International Circuit will also host Asian Le Mans, Touring Car Series and Asia Road Racing motorcycle event this year
Thailand’s latest motor racing track, the Chang International Circuit (CIC) in Buriram, will host its first event early next month and will be flagging down a number of other major races in the near future.
The Bt2-billion complex, which carries an FIA Grade 1 rating, will open with the Japanese Super GT race on October 4 and 5.
Construction of the CIC commenced in 2013 with an FIA Grade 2 rating that would be certified for Formula 3 racing. But the circuit’s owners, led by former politician Newin Chidchob, later upgraded the construction to 1T rating, meaning that it could accommodate Formula 1 testing, and recently went further to adjust the track to pass the FIA Grade 1 rating, allowing Formula 1 racing to be held. Meanwhile, it also conforms to the FIM Grade A rating for Moto GP racing.
Originally called Buriram International Circuit (BRIC), the name of the circuit was changed earlier this month after receiving major sponsorship from Thai Beverage Marketing, the producer of Chang beer. Other sponsors include PTT, Thai Yamaha Motor, Honda Automobile (Thailand), Samart i-Mobile, Bangkok Hospital, Mercedes-Benz (Thailand), AP Honda and Grand Prix International.
The track, which was designed by German engineer and auto racer Hermann Tilke – who is considered the number one race-track designer in the world – is 4.554 kilometres long and consists of 12 corners (seven right-handers and five left-handers), while the 1,200-rai complex is capable of accommodating 50,000 spectators. The track highlights include a 1km straight that allows racing cars to reach a top speed of 315km/h (300km/h for motorcycles).
Racers will be challenged to find the right braking point before entering the next corner. Corner number 4 also allows racers to turn in at 200km/h and fight against tremendous G-forces, followed by corner number 7, which is a 70-degree right-hander that is embedded in two smaller corners. This is another high-speed corner with speeds of up to 160km/h for both cars and bikes. Racers must also carry speed into corners 9 and 10, before entering corner number 12, which is a 126-degree hairpin that offers drivers an opportunity to overtake.
CIC director Tanaisiri Charnvittayarom said spectators on the grandstand are able to see the whole circuit, allowing them to follow all participating cars.
“Our concept is like football, where all spectators can follow the game no matter where they are seated. This is a very unique quality of the CIC because at other circuits, once the cars pass, you must look at the TV monitor to follow the race until they come around again,” he explained.
Tanaisiri also said that within the main track are six multiple tracks that allow more than one race to be held simultaneously.
“We are not only a world-level circuit but we also cater to local cars that don’t carry such high specifications. For example, some cars may not be able to handle the long straight so we have loops for different types of vehicles, including drag racing, drift or even supercross and vehicle testing,” he pointed out.
A high-tech-race control room monitors video feed from more than 30 cameras around the circuit sent to a server for evaluation purposes.
“We have the world’s most advanced race control system as of this moment and we also feature a digital flag system, meaning that we don’t need people to wave the flags any longer,” he said.
The system is tailor-made for the CIC and records up to three days in duration, allowing race marshalls to go back and study each and every action during a race. The circuit also features a pond inside the track to help lower the temperature, as well as lighting that would allow it to stage FIA-certified night races similar to the Singapore GP.
The paddock area consists of 30 pits, and above it the paddock club for VIP guests. There is also another stand on top that allows spectators to closely follow teamwork.
The CIC has signed a two-year contract for the Super GT race (2014-2015), which is an endurance event (300km and 500km) by teams using both Japanese- and European-based cars including the Honda NSX, Lexus LF-CC, Nissan GTR, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Aston Martin and Lamborghini.
A staff of 500 have undergone basic theoretical marshall training, with 130 being screened for the final practical training.
Apart from the Super GT race, the CIC will also host several major races during the remainder of the year, including the Asian Le Mans Series 2014, Touring Car Series in Asia and the Asia Road Racing motorcycle event. Local races lining up for the CIC include the Thailand Super Series, Pro Racing Series Thailand Championship, Truevisions Bobby Hunter Super One Race, Honda One Make Race and Toyota Motorsport Festival.
As many as 35 races will be held on the circuit in 2015, while four world-class events could possibly hit the track as well.
‘A destination for speed races’
“Buriram is a province that God has given nothing to,” says Newin Chidchob, chairman of Chang International Circuit’s advisory committee. “We don’t have the sea, mountains or natural resources and it is a place that people overlook and pass without stopping over. It’s a city that people in Thailand and around the world don’t know much about. If we don’t do something about it, our city will be forgotten.
“That’s the main reason why we needed to build something here,” he explained. “It led to the i-Mobile stadium that is approved by FIFA and is [one of] the largest stadiums in Asia with 32,000 seats.
“Today, it is time for us to have a circuit with FIA Grade 1 rating for Formula 1 racing and FIM Grade A for Moto GP. From now on, we will be a city that has a circuit carrying the best standards in the world. This will lead to big changes for Buriram and we will be well known by Thai people and people around the world who love motorsports and football. “Football is a sport that everyone can experience, but for motorsports it is very difficult. In the past we never had any world-class events here because we didn’t have a circuit approved by the FIA or FIM. But now, with this circuit, we all have a chance to see the best in the world perform in Thailand. You don’t have to go to Malaysia, Shanghai or Japan to see the best races. We now have them here. This will become the ‘destination of speed’ for Thais and people from around the world.”