BEIJING: Malaysian-owned Zhuhai International Circuit (ZIC) Ltd has signed an agreement with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to host the last leg of the Grand Touring (GT) Championship this year.
The race, to be held on Nov 13 and 14 at the international racetrack in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai in Guangzhou, will be the second largest motoring event in China after the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai.
FIA chairman Stephane Ratel said the event would promote the city as GT racing was the fastest growing sport in Europe and attracted an average of 40,000 spectators in each race.
It is given prominent coverage by Europesport News, which attracts five million viewers each weekend and is broadcast over 200 channels.
China is the fastest growing market and big cars like Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin are expected to be at the race, he said during a press conference here yesterday.
The contract is for a year with an option to renew for another three years.
Zhuhai is the second FIA/GT racing venue in Asia after Dubai.
The first of 11 races will start in Italy.
ZIC president Datuk Lim Hock San and Ratel signed the agreement, with Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn and Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Abdul Majid Khan as witnesses yesterday.
Lim said about US$10mil (RM38mil) had been spent to upgrade the circuit after ZIC took over from another Malaysian firm in 2002.
ZIC will finish renovations at the end of March and it will be ready for the new race season, which we hope will be the best in FIA/GT history, he said.
Dr Fong said he hoped the venture could be extended to include the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in the future.
ZIC and SIC can share human resources expertise for future ventures into China, he said.
Dr Fong said on Monday the Chinese government had proposed the setting up of 20 authorised centres for the recruitment of workers for Malaysia to curb the outflow of illegal skilled labourers.
The minister, who is on a five-day working trip here, said this was to safeguard both the quality and welfare of Chinese workers in Malaysia.
Skilled Chinese workers who are in demand in the construction and manufacturing sectors would have to undergo a two-week induction course to learn about the local culture, he added.
He said the induction courses would begin on March 1 and the first batch of Chinese workers were expected to arrive in April or May.
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