FASSI Malaysian Round –
Different worlds under the skies
of Malaysia

In the imagination of Emilio Salgari, Malaysia was portrayed as a distant and mysterious place, one of fascinating variety and therefore where everything was to be discovered: even today, long afterwards, thousands of people visit this corner of Asia every year, attracted by its contrasting aspects which are fused into a sublime solution of modernity and tradition. And it is in the context of the Sepang International Circuit that the sixth round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will take place, from 13th to 15th May 2016.

The Sepang International Circuit opens its doors to standard production models for the third year running. Defined by the locals as the Home of Motorsports, the Sepang circuit was built at the end of the last century with the objective of becoming the point of reference for the activities of all the keen motorsport fans of South-East Asia and of thus re-launching the industry. 

In order to immerse oneself in the Made in Malaysia spirit, there is nothing better than going for a spin in the saddle of one's own high-performance bike to discover two completely different locations close at hand: the island of Pulau Carey and the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is a nation where motorcycling has a large following and where the motorbike is used in everyday life for getting about: one only has to take a look at Kuala Lumpur's traffic to get an idea of how important two wheels are for everyday living. 

Before exploring the contrasts and beauty spots of the capital, one can enjoy a drive to Pulau Carey to discover the roots of this area. On this island lives one of the eighteen indigenous peoples, the Mah Meri, who today retain their own cultural identities despite their integration into and recognition by Malaysian society: Pulau Carey is one of the most visited parts of Malaysia precisely because of the keen curiosity that is aroused by the presence of this tribe.

Attracted by the beauties of the island, one can stop here for a moment, dismount from the saddle of one's own motorbike and really enjoy the landscape, perhaps while sipping one of Malaysia's typical drinks based on coconut milk, rose syrup, sugar and ice. Here one can admire the splendid sculptures created by the natives from a rare type of bright-red-coloured wood, known as Nyireh Batu.

Just time to restore oneself and then to set off again "on the road" towards the destination of Kuala Lumpur, but not before crossing the Langat river, an important source for all the fishing activities in the region.

Founded in 1857 near the confluence of the Gombak and Kelang rivers, Kuala Lumpur is a city with a strong modern vocation which jealously guards among the rest of the skyscrapers the symbols of its colonial past and of its religious traditions, such as temples and mosques. To feast one's eyes on lights and colours in a moment is simple: all one needs to do is to drive one's own motorbike and meander among the streets of this marvellous city in order to appreciate fully its incredible cultural and architectural heritage.

The heart of the city is Merdeka Square, a wide-open space in a city which is today almost exclusively projected up into the air, and which houses the famous flagpole with the Malaysian flag hoisted to a height of 75 metres. To the West Merdeka Square can be found the Lake Gardens, a park which extends across an area of 92 hectares which was once the location of the offices of the British government officials and is today one of the most visited areas of the whole capital. A short distance away, one can admire the Palace of the Sultan Abdul Samad (1897), built in the Moorish style with arched windows and a bell-tower of 41 metres, which is illuminated at sunset by a highly evocative interplay of different coloured lights in succession.

Kuala Lumpur is a centre renowned across the whole of South-East Asia for its strong multi-cultural vocation, something which is exemplary for a city which has little more than a century and a half of history. This footprint has created over the decades a melting pot of clearly visible religions in the district of Brickfields which houses Buddhist pagodas and mosques featuring splendid decorations, such as Masjid Jamek, renowned throughout the whole world for the explosion of light created by its pink and beige minarets, or Masjid Nagara, one of the largest in the whole geographic area, surrounded by over five hectares of greenery.

A journey outside the perimeter of the Sepang International Circuit to discover this part of Malaysia on two wheels cannot ignore what is one of the symbols of the nation which are known throughout the world, the Petronas Towers.

Amongst the tallest buildings in the world, with a height of 451.9 metres, the Petronas Towers have always been flanked by the Sepang International Circuit complex, as both structures are the brainchild of the Malaysian Prime Minister in his quest during the 1990s to re-launch his own country as a major international player. The Petronas Towers were designed by the Brazilian architect Cesar Pelli, whereas the SIC is the work of the German architect Hermann Tilke. 

Driving around the Towers offers an unconventional viewpoint which allows one to admire the load-bearing structure, conceived on the basis of an eight-pointed star. The most daring visitors can always park their own bikes and go up onto the famous Skybridge, the bridge which links the two towers and from which one can enjoy a breathtaking view over the city.

The Golden Triangle of the symbols of the city is completed with the Menara Kuala Lumpur, a destination frequented by lovers of souvenir photographs who take advantage of the incredible views available from its panoramic terrace, one of the highest in the world.

To enjoy one's own full 360° adventure on two wheels in the Malaysian capital one can choose a stay in one of the most visited neighbourhoods of the whole nation, Chinatown. After sunset, this district in the heart of Kuala Lumpur becomes a veritable "eat district" where one can be spoilt for choice of Asian street food: around Petaling Street as it gets dark, a joyous and vibrant atmosphere is created into which one can immerse oneself... by tasting one typical local dish after another.

Various – but invariably heartfelt – emotions enthral all the visitors to the Sepang International Circuit as soon as they cross through the entrance: despite its recent history the complex is an ultra-modern layout, designed by Tilke with the intention of granting spectators thrilling competitions which are full of suspense. 

Built in only 14 months and inaugurated in 1999, it is famous for the special solutions adopted to minimise the discomfort attributable to the high temperatures and to the humidity, two characteristic traits which severely test the resistance of both riders and motorbikes. Inside the complex there is also a shopping centre, a hotel, a golf course and a recreation centre, as well as the National Motor Car Museum. 
The Superbike World Championship made its début on the Sepang circuit for the first time in June 2014: on that occasion Aprilia succeeded in finishing first and second in both legs, with the firm of Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) ahead of his team colleague Sylvain Guintoli. In race-1 the third place on the podium went to Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), whilst in race-2 where the battle between the leading pair went right down to the final bend, the third place was secured by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), vice-champion of the world who finished just behind the Frenchman Guintoli at the end of the season.

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