Several parties interested in Changi race track project

BY CHRISTOPHER TAN - Senior Correspondent

ENTREPRENEUR Peter Kwee's Group Exklusiv, marina owner Arthur Tay, diversified Haw Par Corp and car-and-leisure group Singapore Agro Agricultural are among parties said to be interested in the proposed race track project in Changi.

Last week, the Government announced that a 20-hectare plot next to the Singapore Airshow site has been earmarked for a permanent race circuit.

It is expected to ask for proposals from the private sector within the next six month; and the track could be up and running by 2010.

The track will host go-kart races to touring cars, which are essentially souped-up saloons, as well as open wheeled cars like those in the A1 Grand Prix.

It is intended to be an "accessory circuit", to complement the F1 race on a street circuit in the heart of the city next September.

"We're definitely interested," said Tay, 50, of marina One Degree 15. "It is part of our lifestyle business."

The managing director of leisure-oriented SUTL Group was competing with hotelier Ong Beng Seng for the Formula One franchise just a few months ago.

"I'm not saying anything more until we have more details," Tay said.

Group Exklusiv has a bit more on the table. Executive director Kevin Kwee, 37, said he has already made preliminary track drawings for his proposal.

"We have some interesting concepts which we're trying to fine-tune," he said. "We definitely want to take a crack at it."

Like Tay, Kwee said operating a racing circuit is right up the alley of Exklusiv's "lifestyle business".

Group Exklusiv runs The Pines town club and the Laguna National Golf and Country Club, as well as the Joondalup resort in Perth. It also sells Skodas and China-made cars.

Kwee, however, is puzzled how a proper track can be built on 20 hectares.

"For a 3.7-3.8km track, the minimum is 60 hectares," he said.

The Laguna club grounds, which were once proposed for a Formula One track, are 126 hectares. A Tuas site proposed for a circuit last year around 50 hectares.

The Singapore Sports Council was unreachable for comment.

Singapore Motor Sports Association president Tan Teng Lip, 57, ventured that "there may be room for expansion" once the proposals are filed.

" This is just the first cut," he said. "It is something we've been looking forward to for many years. It's better than nothing."

Kwee recently bid successfully for a life-size sculpture of an F1 car called Desire.

His bid was &90,000. Plus commissioning fees, he forked out &120,000 for the sculpture created by German-born Indonesian artist Pintor. Sirait.

"I'm looking for a place to put it," he said with a wink.