Kedah’s Sungai Petani racing circuit has been thrust into the spotlight again, with the latest state government saying the state has not forgotten about the project, and is in the midst of raising funds to finance the construction.
A bit of background history to this – plans for a northern race circuit in Kedah existed way back in 2014. We have the Tangkak circuit in Johor and the tiny Dato’ Sagor track in Perak, and Batu Tiga is long gone with Sepang taking over duties in the Klang Valley, but we have nothing in the north, so the Kedah menteri besar at that time, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, announced plans to build a 1.6 km circuit on a 70-hectare site on Sungai Petani, with completion expected around 2017.
Nothing happened until 2017, when the prime minister at the time, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, announced that he had approved an allocation of RM30 million to build a race circuit in Sungai Petani. The project was aimed at eliminating illegal street racing, with Najib saying, “The track will benefit the youth, there will be no more need for Mat Rempit to race on the streets. They can race all they want on a track then.”
However, the Kedah chief minister at the time, Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, said the state did not want to rush into things as maintaining a circuit can be costly.
No news about the circuit since then, but the present Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has given some updates in a Bernama report about what has been going on with the project.
According to Sanusi, RM10 million out of the approved RM30 million budget had been spent on earthworks, but work had halted ever since due to insufficient budget. He says the previous state government had changed the original plan and costs had bloated to RM73 million, but the KBS ministry was unable to channel the extra allocation to cover the new costs.
The plan now is to revert to the original design that was given a RM30 million budget, and to sell some of the land allocated for the circuit to fund any shortfall. Thus, the land allocated for the circuit will be divided into a commercial area and a motorsports area.