Motorsport is going through a time of uncertainty in Asia as Formula One races lose popularity in some countries, while MotoGP is showing some strength. We pick out the region’s top five racing tracks.
Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia)
Located near to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sepang can be chaos in the rain, like at this year’s MotoGP race – although some would say this adds to its appeal.
Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi for one, rates the Malaysian Grand Prix, which uses Sepang.
“Sepang is one of my favourite tracks,” he said ahead of this year’s race. “I like it a lot, but it’s also one of the most difficult races of the season due to the weather.”
However, Formula One’s future at the track is up in the air amid financial concerns.
The main circuit, normally raced in a clockwise direction, is 5.543 kilometres long with a long back straight separated from the pit straight by just one tight hairpin.
The facilities also cater to kart racing and motocross.
It was designed by Hermann Tilke and opened in 1999.
Shanghai International Circuit (China)
Located in the city’s northwest, the Shanghai International Circuit is expected to have a bright future, with Formula One still gaining popularity in China.
However, MotoGP events ended there in 2008 after overcrowding problems on the circuit, while a former manager of the circuit was convicted of embezzlement as part of a corruption scandal in Shanghai.
It has a long back straight followed by a hairpin turn, with today’s cars easily surpassing 300kph.
The track layout was based on the first Chinese character of Shanghai, meaning “above” or “ascend.”
The 5.5km circuit opened in 2004 and was also designed by Tilke.
Michael Schumacher set the lap record in the year it opened, completing a circuit in 1 minute, 32.238 seconds in his Ferrari.
Buddh International Circuit
The circuit is located 40km from New Delhi as part of the Jaypee Sports City.
It hosted India’s first Formula One Grand Prix in 2011 and was named the Motorsport Facility of the Year at the Professional Motorsport World Expo the same year.
The blind uphill Turn 3 is noted for bringing overtaking action and the high-speed right-hander is a challenge.
However, F1 races ended there in 2013 amid a tax dispute with the Uttar Pradesh government.
The 5.13km track, designed by Tilke, was inaugurated in 2011.
Marina Bay Street Circuit (Singapore)
The night race was a first for Formula One, with the cityscape on the southern side of the island nation providing a great backdrop.
Daniel Ricciardo set the lap record on a new layout this year of 1 minute, 47.187 seconds, although F1 champion Nico Rosberg took the honours.
The section around the pits is custom-made, with the feel of a permanent circuit, but most of the action is on the streets of Singapore, with their bumps, tight corners and unforgiving walls.
The 5.065km circuit was the first in Asia to take F1 to a city’s streets.
A spectator last year got a close-up view of the track, crossing it as Sebastian Vettel and Ricciardo sped by during racing.
Tilke was also the architect for this track.
Located in the city of Suzuka between Nagoya and Kyoto, the Japanese Grand Prix is raced on a quick track with a unique figure-eight layout.
It is the scene of historic motorsport moments, including when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost collided at a chicane in 1989.
That race was the culmination of the McLaren pair’s rivalry as teammates, deciding the Drivers’ Championship in Prost’s favor.
Prost abandoned his car, but Senna restarted his and went on to win, but was disqualified for incorrectly rejoining the circuit, handing Prost the title.
It is not only the most well-regarded circuit in Asia, but arguably the world.
The start is on a straight that allows speeds exceeding 300kph, while there are ample overtaking opportunities. Cambers and elevations vary and drivers have to alternate between the throttle and brakes.
Senna described the Spoon Curve, named for its shape, as the most challenging in F1.
The track opened in 1962 and is a design of John Hugenholtz.