Thursday, March 5, 2015

DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team Conclude Successful Test at Sepang

Malaysia – Thursday 5th March
Circuit: Sepang International Circuit
Circuit Length: 5.543 km
Today the DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team concluded their testing program at Sepang International Circuit.
Having used their time at the Circuit to focus on finding a good base setting and adapting to their new 2015 KTM Moto3 machines, riders Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Jakub Kornfeil completed their seven day test feeling happy with what they had achieved.
The team will now return to Europe where they will prepare for the final test at Jerez de la Frontera in twelve days’ time.
Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager
“It’s our final day here in Sepang and we’ve had good conditions once again. We still had a couple of things we wanted to try today but we’ve basically done everything that we came here to do. Jakub improved again his lap time on the race tyres, which we were very happy about. The pace he’s been running with those tyres is very good. He’s feeling confident and is happy with the feeling he has on the bike.
Similar with Fahmi we tried a couple of things with his set-up and he also improved his lap time. He’s a lot more comfortable with the bike and he said he is ready for Jerez. I think the whole team are prepared now and feeling positive about the final test. Of course it’s a track with different conditions to here but I think we’ve made a good base for both bikes that we can take with us to Jerez. Again I must thank Sepang International Circuit [SIC] and all of our sponsors and partners supporting us. It’s been a very positive three weeks for us here and we can’t wait for the next test and the season to start.”
#63 Zulfahmi Khairuddin
“I’m happy to have had another opportunity to ride my bike again today. We were able to improve the set-up more and it felt really good. We were immediately faster when we put in new tyres and much quicker than our previous test day. I think now we are ready to go to Jerez; we have a good base set-up and I’m feeling confident on the bike. I’m feeling positive and I look forward to heading to Spain to see what else we can achieve in the final test. I have a good crew around me and I must thank them for their hard work over the past few weeks. We have come a long way since the first day and I’m very happy about this.”
#84 Jakub Kornfeil 
“Throughout this test we have been working very hard and have achieved a lot. Today was just the day for final checks and to make sure everything was OK with the set-up we had. We were just riding and making some laps but then we had an idea and so we tried another setting with the rear of the bike. This helped to further improve my KTM, so I asked to try it with a new tyre to see if I could make some fast laps. I ended up doing my fastest lap time so far, which was very good. We didn’t expect this because this last test day was not the day for making the perfect lap time, but we did. I’m very happy about this and I want to say a big thank you to my mechanics and especially my Crew Chief who had this idea and set up my bike very well. Finally I did this best lap time and still only using a medium tyre, so this means with the soft tyre we can go even faster. It’s great to finish like this; we are so happy, everybody is smiling and feeling positive about the next test at Jerez. I believe we have a very good bike and a good opportunity to make great results.”
-SIC Racing Team facebook.

It’s Time For Africa

KUALA LUMPUR - The fight for the PROTON yellow jersey at the twentieth Le Tour de Langkawi is a worldwide affair. Representatives of the five continents will line up on Malaysia’s Paradisiacal island on March 8.

Europe will be led by giants Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo. Oceania will send Australia’s only World Team Orica-GreenEdge. Both North America (Unitedhealthcare) and South America (Team Colombia) are expected to impact the race. Asia has the highest number of teams on the start list topped by Astana from Kazakhstan, while new comers from the Middle East (Skydive Dubai) and neighbors from Turkey (Torku) and Azerbaijan (Baku) will have their say as well among the record number of 36 nationalities out of 132 riders set to gather on the start line.

History of Le Tour de Langkawi already highlights overall winners from all continents: Oceania (Australia’s Damian McDonald open the record book in 1996), Europe (since Italy’s Luca Scinto won in 1997), America (Chris Horner from USA won in 2000 before Hernan Dario Munoz initiated a Colombian domination in 2002), Africa (South Africa took back to back victories with Ryan Cox and David George ten years ago) and Asia (Iran’s Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhor took the laurels last year). Clearly, it’s time for Africa again, now that black athletes are also putting their feet in the world of the top cyclists as they do in many other sports.

Merhawi Kudus from Eritrea came second last year at the age of 20 only. With the experience of having completed a Grand Tour (the Vuelta a Espana) since, he’ll return to Malaysia with his MTN-Qhubeka team in the position of a hot favourite. The first African team set to take part in the Tour de France in July this year has chosen a very fine line up destined to reach Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur with the PROTON yellow jersey on March 15. Also from Eritrea, Natnael Berhane and Daniel Teklehaimanot are other excellent climbers, so is the newly crowned South African champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg who has a valuable record at LTdL: 6th overall in 2009, 20th in 2012, 14th in 2013, 6th in 2014.

“It would be wonderful for the prestige of Le Tour de Langkawi to have an African winner this time around”, the CEO of the 2015 LTdL datuk Abdul Malik Mydin said. “When I welcomed Chris Froome at the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge in 2011, he told me about the great improvement of cycling in Africa. But it’s not going to be easy for these guys to beat the World Teams.”

GC riders with a Tour de France pedigree like Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) who already came second overall at LTdL two years ago, Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) will share the responsibilities of being the favorites with Kudus, as well as Team Sky’s new climbing sensation from Colombia Sebastian Henao, 21.

Since LTdL is often won by South American cyclists, other riders to watch will be Rodolfo Torres (Team Colombia) who came second in the Tour of San Luis in January, Carlos Galviz (Androni-Venezuela) who won a stage at the Vuelta Tachira also in January, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) who won the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir, Edward Beltran (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Isaac Bolivar (Unitedhealthcare) who created a surprise by finishing third at LTdL last year.

Besides Colombians and Venezuelans, the twentieth Le Tour de Langkawi could also mark the beginning of a new era in cycling, shall China’s Wang Meiyin step up once again. Two years ago, the versatile rider from the Shandong province won the Cameron Highlands stage, finished fifth overall as well as best Asian rider and King of the Mountain. His return to Malaysia with Hengxiang is another very interesting one in the wake of the globalization of cycling.

In any case, a new era will begin in the history of Le Tour de Langkawi since no former winner will be in contention this time around.

The overall winners of Le Tour de Langkawi:
1996: Damian McDonald (Aus)
1997: Luca Scinto (Ita)
1998: Gabriele Missaglia (Ita)
1999: Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita)
2000: Chris Horner (USA)
2001: Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita)
2002: Hernan Dario Munoz (Col)
2003: Tom Danielson (USA)
2004: Freddy Gonzalez (Col)
2005: Ryan Cox (RSA)
2006: David George (RSA)
2007: Anthony Charteau (Fra)
2008: Ruslan Ivanov (Mol)
2009: José Serpa (Col)
2010: José Rujano (Ven)
2011: Jonathan Monsalve (Ven)
2012: José Serpa (Col)
2013: Julian Arredondo (Col)
2014: Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Ira)

Langkawi eyes European charters with new attractions

Art In Paradise, Langkawi facebook

Langkawi is in talks with operators to launch new charter flights, hoping its new attractions and an intensified promotions drive will help attract more Europeans this year.

Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) CEO, Khalid Ramli, said LADA is talking to European flight charter operators as there are no direct scheduled airlines connecting the destination and Europe.

Khalid said: “We are meeting with two charterers from Sweden and Finland (yesterday) to discuss with them the possibility of flying to Langkawi during summer, winter or even throughout the year. We offer charter companies a special cash incentive of US$10 per (passenger) head.”

British Airways, in the meantime, is scheduled to return to Kuala Lumpur from May this year, a development Khalid welcomed because “historically, majority of British tourists to Malaysia will visit Langkawi”.

The push for more European tourists is also due to new attractions that are expected to be of interest to Europeans. The Langkawi Sky Bridge reopened last month after two years of upgrading works. A new 3D art museum, hailed as the second-largest in the world, and teambuilding venue Langkawi Skytrex, suitable for both corporate and leisure tourists who enjoy extreme sports, are also now available.

LADA is also strengthening its position in ecotourism and nature tourism, banking on the destination’s rich variety of animal and plant life. The archipelago welcomed the 5th Asian Bird Fair in Langkawi last year and, in 2015, will host a bird and butterfly fair in October.
LADA will also introduce mangrove walk packages in the 3Q2015.

As well, it aims to market directly to European travellers through its website

On the importance of the European market, Rosnina Yaacob, manager, tourism division at LADA, said: “Europeans love nature and they will support our efforts to ensure Langkawi develops sustainably. All of Langkawi with its 100 islands have been designated UNESCO Geopark status.”

Currently, the UK, Russia, Germany and Sweden are among Langkawi’s top 10 source markets.
-TTG Asia.

Tourism Malaysia Aims To Take Shopping Sector To The Next Level

PETALING JAYA, 5 March 2015 – Tourism Malaysia gave the country’s retail industry players an update of its various initiatives to promote Malaysia as one of the world’s best shopping destinations. Organised and presented by its shopping promotion arm, Secretariat Shopping Malaysia, the event took place today at The Royal Chulan Damansara Hotel, Mutiara Damansara.

It also serves as a platform for the participants to exchange information on the shopping sector’s current performance, trends and future outlook. A public-private sector dialogue between the representatives of the retail industry and government bodies further facilitates the sharing of ideas, understanding issues and concerns, and recommending solutions and strategies to help propel the shopping sector to the next level.

The event also includes a presentation by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia on the highlights of the Malaysia Year of Festivals (MyFest) 2015. MyFEST is the current national tourism campaign with the theme “Endless Celebrations”, which depicts the vibrant festive celebrations of multicultural Malaysia. 

Tourism Malaysia’s Deputy Director General (Planning) Madam Chong Yoke Har delivered the keynote address at the event. It was also attended by the representatives of Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur City Centre (BBKLCC), Batu Road Retailers Association (BARRA), Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) and Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks (PPK). Also present were representatives of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives & Consumerism, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, and Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Malaysia’s shopping sector is a major contributor to the country’s tourist receipts, amounting to RM19.8 billion or 30.2% of the total receipts of RM65.4 billion in 2013. In addition, the shopping sector also continues to hold the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after the accommodation sector which is only higher by 0.1%.

“If we continue to push harder and strategise better, the shopping sector can overtake accommodation as the number one tourism revenue contributor,” said Madam Chong during her keynote address. While this goal poses a challenge for everyone in the shopping sector, Madam Chong believed that it is not impossible to achieve. She called on the retail industry players to rally around to achieve a healthier growth for the sector. Besides that, she also acknowledged that the continuous support given by the private sector to Tourism Malaysia’s promotional efforts in boosting the country’s shopping sector has been rewarded and recognised.

Authoritative international media CNN ranked Kuala Lumpur as one of the world’s top shopping destinations. Kuala Lumpur secured the number four spot in CNN’s World’s Best Shopping Cities in 2012 and 2013 consecutively. This put Malaysia in the league of the world’s shopping capitals – New York, Tokyo and London. Kuala Lumpur was also ranked as the 2nd Best Shopping Destination in Asia Pacific by Globe Shopper Index, making the city the best shopping destination in Southeast Asia and among the tops in Asia.

“With your active participation, Malaysia’s shopping sector has progressed by leaps and bounds. Since the past three decades, more than 350 shopping malls have opened all over the country,” said Madam Chong, congratulating the industry players for the achievements.

Madam Chong also urged the industry players to help make the upcoming 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale 2015 a huge success. The sale, which will be held from 14 March to 5 April, will add more excitement to the 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix that will hit the Sepang International Circuit from 27 to 29 March.

The 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale is one of the three major shopping campaigns organised by Tourism Malaysia. The other two are the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival and the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale. This year, the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival will be held from 27 June to 31 August while the 1Malaysia Year-End sale will take place from 14 November to 3 January next year. The thrice yearly sales have helped bring numerous benefits to the local retail sector and boost tourist expenditure in the country.
-Tourism Malaysia.

MTN-Qhubeka Has The Climbing Power

KUALA LUMPUR - The hot favorites for the overall individual and teams classifications of the 20th Le Tour de Langkawi this year are MTN-Qhubeka. The first ever African trade team invited to the Tour de France has selected riders from their continent only to take part for the fifth consecutive time. The Malaysian event has remained close to the heart of their principal Douglas Ryder who was the King of the Mountains in 1998.

With newly crowned South African champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg and their Eritrean trio formed of Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael Berhane, they look like having the most qualified team for GC, possibly stronger than the World Team in contention this time around.

Kudus was an amazing runner up at LTdL last year at the age of 20 only. Since then, he has completed his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta, in September, and he resumed racing on a high note again in 2015 with winning the African championship for team time trial over South Africa and finishing 7th of stage 3 at the Tour of Andalucia not far behind the world’s best climbers Alberto Contador and Chris Froome.

Janse van Rensburg has delivered a dream result by finishing 5th overall at the Tour of Oman behind Tour de France stars Rafael Valls, Tejay van Garderen, Alejandro Valverde and Rafal Majka. “It went even better for me as I was hoping to approach the top”, he said. “With all those teams from the World Tour in contention, it was great to be the first rider from Pro Continental level so close to them on GC.”

“I was actually riding the Tour of Oman in preparation for Le Tour de Langkawi, a race that I’ve always liked”, added Janse van Rensburg who already took part on four occasions and always performed well in the overall ranking: 6th in 2009, 20th in 2012, 14th in 2013 and 6th again in 2014. “It’s a very well organized race with nice hills. The route is never too hard with only one or two days of climbing. I’m really happy with what the course offers this year: start in Langkawi, finish in Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands on the second last day rather than at the beginning of the event. I’m excited to go back to Malaysia.”

“My form is very good”, he continued. “It would be really big if we’d win the race as a team and for me, personally, I’m chasing my first pro win internationally. We’re bringing a team mostly for GC. We don’t have a designated leader because it usually comes down to who is the best on Genting Highlands.”

MTH-Qhubeka’s line up is completed by Algerian sprinter Youcef Reguigui who finished 5th in the bunch gallop of the last stage of the Tour of Qatar. His lead out man will be Nic Dougall from South Africa. “The average age of the team coming to Malaysia is 24 years”, noted the CEO of the 2015 LTdL datuk Abdul Malik Mydin. “It makes it one of the most interesting to follow for the future of globalized cycling. I’m also excited to see them perform on our roads.”

Merhawi KUDUS (Eri), Natnael BERHANE (Eri), Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT (Eri), Nicolas DOUGALL (RSA), Youcef REGUIGUI (Alg) and Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG (RSA)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Soft Launch Of Malaysia International Shoe Festival 2015

photo: MOTAC facebook
KUALA LUMPUR, 3 March 2015 – The Malaysia International Shoe Festival (MISF) is back and it will be the region’s biggest shoe and fashion sensation. This is the 6th edition of the Festival and it will be featuring two legends –in one show—Prof Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo OBE and Datuk Zang Toi!

The Soft Launch of the Malaysia International Shoe Festival 2015 was held at Matic on 3rd March 2015, launched by The Guest-Of-Honour, Y. Bhg. Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah, Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. In addition to officiating at the event, he will officially launch the ‘I Love Malaysian Shoes’ campaign. The key aims of this initiative are to emphasise the impressive quality and styling of locally produced footwear and to promote them among local and overseas footwear lovers.

MISF will be held from 13th to 15th March 2015 at Hall 6 of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur. The Festival is organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in collaboration with the Malaysia Footwear Manufacturers Association (MFMA). It has become a highly anticipated annual event, held in conjunction with the 1Malaysia GP Sale (1MGPS). The sale this year will be held from 14th March to 5th April, adding more excitement to the adrenaline-pumping 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix (27 to 29 March 2015). Off the race circuit in Sepang, shoppers will be feted to thrills of a different kind – truly Malaysian shopping experience at participating malls which will offer not only the best bargains and the best choices but also serve a feast for the senses – from culinary temptations to fun and recreation to relaxation and entertainment. Both 1MGPS and MISF 2015 are set to stir shopping excitement right from the early part of this year.

MISF 2015 will be a regional platform for the shoe industry to showcase and promote its best footwear as well as related products and services. The Festival will feature over 100 local and international shoe brands and it is expected to draw over 70,000 local and overseas visitors. It is the perfect event for networking, developing new sales opportunities and obtaining market exposure. In addition, the Festival will offer numerous fun activities for all in the family.

MISF 2015 is also eagerly anticipated by shoppers and tourists. In addition to showcasing the latest footwear trends and designs from across the region and around the world, the Festival offers irresistible bargains for shoe lovers. Indeed, MISF 2015 is considered to be one of the biggest shopping events of the year.

MISF 2015 is expected to be even more spectacular than the earlier editions. The emphasis is on high fashion and two fashion legends—Prof Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo OBE and Datuk Zang Toi—will be on hand to ensure its success.

Prof Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo OBE is a world-famous shoe designer while Datuk ZangToi is Malaysia’s New York-based international fashion designer. Both icons will be honoured with retrospective exhibitions of their careers at MISF 2015. Datuk Zang Toi who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his label, House of Toi—will be presented with the MISF Tourism Special Recognition award.

Datuk Zang Toi will be staging a glamorous fashion show to present his Autumn/Winter 2015 collection at MISF 2015. In addition, he will be conducting a forum to share his knowledge on the international fashion industry with budding fashion designers.

The other amazing attractions of MISF 2015 include its Killer Heels Competition, a Short Video Competition, a Designer Pavilion promoting new local designers, fashion shows, the latest shoe trends, amazing promotions and much more.

Admission to MISF 2014 is free; visitors can pre-scan the MISF QR code or like misfshoe page for free entry. There will be a TRADE Day for trade visitors on 13 March 2015 from 10:30am to 3:00pm, Public: 3.00pm - 9.00pm. From 14-15 March 2015, the Festival will be accessible to traders and general public from 10:30am to 9.00pm.
-Tourism Malaysia.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Malaysia To Promote MyFest 2015 At ITB Berlin 2015

PUTRAJAYA, 2 March 2015The Secretary General of Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Datuk Dr. Ong Hong Peng is leading the Malaysian delegation to participate in Europe’s largest and most prominent tourism fair, International Tourismus Borse (ITB) Berlin 2015, as part of Malaysia’s continuing efforts to publicise the country’s Malaysia Year of Festivals (MyFest) 2015 and its comprehensive promotional activities.

ITB 2015, which will be held from 4 to 9 March, marks the 41st anniversary of Malaysia’s participation in this prestigious event, which is a strong testimony to the country’s continued interest in the European market and its commitment to attract more tourists from this market.

A total of 100 participants from 56 organisations in Malaysia are participating in this year’s ITB, comprising a good mix of hotels and resorts, travel agents, tourism products owners, airlines, and local tourism boards.

Datuk Dr. Ong will officially declare open the Malaysia Pavilion at ITB Berlin on 4 March, which will showcase the rich diversity and culture of the country and its innumerable tourism attractions, crafts and cuisine. He is also scheduled to launch the MyFest 2015 taxi wrap advertising campaign, as well as host the MyFest 2015 reception for the European media, tour operators and guests, on the same day.

During the ITB, the Secretary General will meet with representatives of top airlines and key travel agencies in Europe, as well as attend media interviews.

“ITB Berlin is a perfect platform for us to promote MyFest 2015 as the whole world is literally attending this event,” said Datuk Dr. Ong.

More than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries will display their products at the 49th edition of this leading trade show.
-Tourism Malaysia.

DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team Officially Launched

Sepang, 3 March 2015 – The all-new Sepang International Circuit (SIC) Racing Team today officially unveiled their team and sponsors ahead of their eagerly-anticipated World Motorcycle Championship Moto3 debut in Qatar at the end of this month.
The Malaysian Moto3 outfit also received a massive boost when energy drink Drive M7 decided to back the team which will be officially registered as the DRIVE M7 SIC RACING TEAM this year.
“The support of a main sponsor and other official partners is almost the perfect start for the team this season. Acquiring sponsorship, especially for a new team, can be very challenging. However, like us at SIC, there are others who believe in the team and what it can achieve. We welcome these sponsors and thank them for their support,” commented SIC CEO, Dato’ Razlan Razali, at the official launch of the team and sponsors today.
Brandishing its exciting and colourful livery, the Drive M7 SIC Racing Team made their first official appearance today. With experienced team manager Johan Stigefelt at the helm, the team will have Malaysian Moto3 star Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Czech ace Jakub Kornfeil leading the team’s assault on the track.
Speaking at the launch, Mutiara Motors Group Sales and Marketing Director Encik Mahathir Datuk Ahmad, representing the owners of Drive M7 Energy Drink said, “It has always been our vision and passion to see local teams participating and competing at the highest stage. We were elated when Dato’ Razlan invited us to be a partner for the SIC Racing Team. We believe the team has a lot of experience and will offer stiff competition in the Moto3 category this year. It is a great honour for us to support our local team and also our local rider. Furthermore, collaboration with SIC gives us a lot of options to explore possibilities for our brands, namely Drive M7 Energy Drink and M7 Pro Oil, as they have many local and international events here at the Sepang International Circuit, as well as international brand name exposure as sponsors.”
Meanwhile, Stigefelt said he felt the team was competitive enough to create some waves in Moto3. “I would like for us to reach some podiums and to be fighting within the top ten. I believe we have a strong team and two good riders that are determined to show what they are capable of. I think Jakub and Fahmi can do a great job. They get on very well and like to work together and I think this is another advantage for our team.”
“To have Drive M7 as our title sponsor means a lot to us. They bring a great profile to the team. It is a privilege to have them as our partner,” said Stigefelt, who is popularly known in the racing circles as Stiggy. “I would like to also thank Dato’ Razlan for trusting in me to bring this team together and SIC for allowing this opportunity. I hope to show our thanks and appreciation with good results.” Zulfahmi, who is itching for action this season, said: “I have been racing in the World Championship for five years, so it is great that now I can ride for a Malaysian team. I’m also encouraged with the set-up we have now. I am very hopeful that it will be a better year than I have had in the past. One of my goals for this year is to be competitive from the first round and I know we have the package to do this.”
Kornfeil, who was 12th overall in the world championship last year, is thrilled with the opportunity that he has. “We have been here in Malaysia since 16 February and on our test days it’s been great to be able to use the track all day long in such good conditions. I must say a big thank you to SIC for this possibility. The hot conditions have allowed us to set-up the bike very well and I believe this will allow us to be better prepared at many of the other circuits too, where the temperatures are not as high.”
“It’s too early to say exactly what our goals are for the season but of course we will always aim to be at the front. I am feeling positive and am confident that we can do well.”
The Malaysian team, which opens their campaign on March 29 in the season-opening race in Qatar, also has sponsors:
M7 Pro Oil - Oil for the engines
Ministry of Youth and Sports as their sponsors.
WP – Suspension
Puma – Team footwear supplier
Accossato – Team supplier of Brake and Clutch leavers and Throttle Control unit
RK – Teams official supplier of Chains and Sprockets
PRO Bolt – Titanium bolts and nuts for the bikes
Sport Travel – Team official Agency for booking flights, cars and hotels
CL Brakes – Providing the Team with Brake pads
Dunlop – Official supplier of Tyres to the Moto3 class
MRA – Screen supplier
Rudy Project – Official eye-wear sponsor for the Team
-SIC Racing Team facebook.

Gaints Team Sky Ambitious In Their First Ever Le Tour De Langkawi

KUALA LUMPUR - A big attraction at the teams’ presentation of Le Tour de Langkawi on March 7 on Malaysia’s Paradisiacal island will be the presence of first timers Team Sky. Born in 2010, the Manchester-based squad managed the incredible challenge of building the first British overall victory at the Tour de France in the region of five years, and not only one but two with Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013.

“For a couple of years, we’ve been considering taking part in Le Tour de Langkawi and finally, this time around, we’ve made it a reality”, said Team Sky’s head directeur sportif Nicolas Portal with a large smile. “Personally, this race is close to my heart since it was my first one as a professional with Ag2r in 2002. A few of us in the staff also have found memories of racing in Malaysia so we put on a good word to our coaches to decide on the race program.”

Assistant DS Markus Ljunqvist is no other than the Genting Highlands stage winner in 1999 and Gabriel Rasch who will direct the team here from March 8 to 15 discovered Asia when he took part in the Eagle Tour of Malaysia on the island of Langkawi in August 2002. So did Ireland’s Philip Deignan who is part of the line up for LTdL again.
“I’ve come to race in Malaysia a few times and I last rode Langkawi with Cervélo in 2009”, Deignan said. “I finished 11th that year but this time, I’m not going to target GC. I’ll be a support rider for our Colombian climber.” Ten years his junior, 21 year old Sebastian Henao has been designated Team Sky’s leader for the overall classification. A second year pro now, he came eighth in the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia, where his compatriot and eventual winner Nairo Quintana took the pink jersey last year.

“Sebastian is not such an explosive climber as his cousin Sergio”, Portal explained. “But he’s very strong in long climbs. He rode fantastically uphill in our pre season training camp so we wanted to give him a chance to express himself and race with the responsibilities of the team leadership. Genting Highlands suits him perfectly. Le Tour de Langkawi can be the stepping stone of his career.”

Henao will be guided in the bunch by Team Sky’s super domestique Danny Pate who has many Grand Tours under his belt, including last year’s Tour de France. “I rode the 2004 Le Tour de Langkawi with HealthNet and I’ve always wanted to come back”, the American said. “I’m glad we’re doing it this year.” Pate finished fourth in the conclusive stage of the Tour of Oman on February 22nd and flew directly to Malaysia after that to get acclimatized.

Team Sky’s sprinter Chris Sutton was assigned a very different itinerary. Having already raced in Australia (the Santos Tour Down Under in January) and the Middle East (Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman), he has the opening weekend of racing in Belgium on his schedule before Le Tour de Langkawi, which will be followed by another European campaign and the Tour of California in May, so he might well be the biggest traveler of professional cycling this year. LTdL is also not new to him as he rode in 2009 with Garmin and came twice second and once third in bunch sprint finishes.

Even though it’s Team Sky’s first participation, there’s already plenty of Langkawi experience in their ranks.


Sebastian HENAO (Col), Danny PATE (USA), Chris SUTTON (Aus), Philip DEIGNAN (Irl), Nathan EARLE (Aus) and Ian BOSWELL (USA)

MAEPS To Become New Agro-Tourism Attraction

PUTRAJAYA, March 3 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Agriculture Exhibition Park (MAEPS) in Serdang will become a new attraction for the national agro-tourism sector with the opening of the agriculture park and state pavilions to the public.

Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the ministry was in the midst of talks with the relevant parties including the Tourism and Culture Ministry and state representatives on the matter.

He said the agriculture park will be open every day beginning next month while the state pavilions are expected to be open in three months time every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, to promote each state's culture.

"We are still discussing, including on the role of the states and the contributions which should be made to promote their pavilions," he told reporters after launching the 2015 Agro-tourism Seminar here Tuesday.

"For instance, Sarawak will not only promote food during MAHA (the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism Show), but would also showcase its cultural shows," he added.

Ismail Sabri said agrotourism had a huge potential as it could be an attraction to tourists especially from Europe, Japan and Asia.

"In fact, Singapore also has a syllabus in their education system relating to tourism, but it is common knowledge, they do not have places like orchards and caged fish farms," he said.


Monday, March 2, 2015

AirAsia Offers 20 Pct Discount For All Seats, Flights

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 (Bernama) -- AirAsia Group in its latest promotion is offering 20 per cent off base fares for all seats and all flights to over 100 destinations throughout all of its route network across 20 countries, with zero fuel surcharges.

In a statement today, the group said bookings may be made at from March 3 to 8, 2015 with immediate travel from March 5 to July 12, 2015.

The 20 per cent discount is also applicable to bookings via AirAsia's mobile app on iPhone and Android devices, as well as the mobile site, it said.

The offer applies to all AirAsia and AirAsia X flights with flight code AK (Malaysia AirAsia), D7 (Malaysia AirAsia X), FD (Thailand AirAsia), XJ (Thailand AirAsia X), QZ (Indonesia AirAsia) except Indonesia domestic flights, XT (Indonesia AirAsia Extra), PQ (Philippines AirAsia) and Z2 (AirAsia Zest), it added.

Its Commercial Head Spencer Lee, said with the largest route network across this region, the discount promotion would spur more demand for travel especially with the ease and convenience of the group's vast network.

As participating partners for this special offer, AirAsia BIG Loyalty Card and BIG Prepaid Master Card holders would be able to collect points when flying with AirAsia and also redeem their flights throughout the promotion period at, said AirAsia.


Zaqhwan banking on familiarity in Moto2 charge

Malaysia's moto2 world championship racer Zaqhwan Zaidi posing with his Suter bike with Suter Racing CEO Eskil Suter during the unveiling of JPM Moto Racing team in KL on Monday. - FAIHAN GHANI/ The STAR

KUALA LUMPUR: Zaqhwan Zaidi loves life in the fast lane.
The 19-year-old is set to make his debut in the Moto2 World Motorcycle Championship at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on March 29.
“This will perhaps be the most challenging season in my racing career and I aim to take this challenge with a positive attitude,” said the Asian Road Racing Cham­pionships 600cc Supersports reigning champion.
Zaqhwan will feature for Malaysian-backed JPM Moto racing team this season and is aiming for a top-15 finish. He will ride the Swiss-built Suter bike.
Last year, Zaqhwan bagged three titles. He romped his way almost unchallenged to the CP130 title in the Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championships with five wins in 10 races.
He then won the Superbike crown in the Malaysian Super Series at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in November before bagging the SuperSports 600c title in December.
“I hope my familiarity with the Sepang and Qatar circuits will give me an added advantage. “It’s my first season and I need to make some adjustments using the Ohlins suspension instead of KYB,” he said.
JPM Moto racing team founder JP Chin is looking forward to working with Zaqhwan. “We’re glad to have him on board and that we can make his dream of competing on the world stage a reality. “We all know he is a good rider and perhaps the best in the country now,” he said.
Suter Racing, who manufactured Zaqhwan’s new Suter MMX2 bike, have constructed bikes that have won three Moto2 constructor’s championships.
And Suter Racing chief executive officer Eskil Suter, a former racer, believes Zaqhwan can achieve great things.
“He’s a talented rider. “If he can keep his focus, learn the new tracks fast and not put too much pressure on himself ... he can do great. “But he needs time to mature as Moto2 is not easy.”
-thestar online.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Further improvement for SIC Racing Team at Sepang

Malaysia – Sunday 1st March
Circuit: Sepang International Circuit
Circuit Length: 5.543 km
Having completed a further three consecutive days of testing at Sepang International Circuit, SIC Racing Team concluded today’s test in high spirits.
Happy with bike set-up and feeling more comfortable on his #84 bike, Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil conducted a successful race simulation matching his race pace from last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Following a change to the rear setting of the #63 machine, teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin took a big step forward knocking nearly a second off his lap time and finding a good base setting.
Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager
“It’s the third and final day of our second test at Sepang and it’s been very good. With Jakub we actually accomplished what we came here for after running through the whole test program. We had time to do a long run today with him and it went very well. Looking at the times from last year’s race, we are competitive and this is what we came here to do. For sure it’s been six days of hard work and trying many things, which is not easy for the rider all the time, but Jakub has really shown that he is a professional rider. He is very good at giving his feedback; he’s very precise with everything, which makes it easy for his crew to work with him. His team have also been working very well and they have learned the bike very quickly, so I’m really happy with that.
Zulfahmi has also made a big step forward today. We can now see the changes we made yesterday evening have helped and his set-up is a lot better. We’re getting him closer to where he should be and he’s feeling more comfortable on the bike. He is more happy and smiling which is great to see. His crew are working very hard too and doing a good job. It takes time but we’re getting closer and closer, so we’re looking forward to the last day and trying some more things.
We now have one day to go which will hopefully complete our preparation and get us ready for Jerez and the season to come. However I can say that we have found two good base settings for both riders and we have made great progress here at Sepang. I must say well done to the whole team for doing a good job.”
#63 Zulfahmi Khairuddin
“We made some changes on the bike and finally we improved quite a lot compared to two days before, so I’m really happy with what we have achieved today. I have been trying many different riding styles to find what suits this bike best and finally after six days on the track I feel we have made a good step forward. We have a good base set-up now and I feel a lot more comfortable on the 2015 KTM machine. After trying many things we have found the right direction and this has helped us to improve a lot. I’m feeling much more positive and I’m very happy to have found this base setting. I look forward to our last test day to see what else we can do. We plan to have a time attack and hopefully we can pick up the pace more and improve our lap time. So far it’s really good with the team and with the set-up of the bike.”
#84 Jakub Kornfeil 
“Today was our last main day of testing; we have one more on Thursday but this will be more about trying little things like the start. The plan for today was to try a race simulation and I’m very happy with how this went. When we started the day we still had some more changes to make on the setting of the bike, but we managed to do this very quickly and were able to get straight into the race simulation. The bike today was working very well; I feel so comfortable on it now and I feel prepared for the next test in Jerez. In the race simulation I set a good lap time alone, with nobody in front of me, which I’m very happy with. I had a good pace with consistent lap times, so this is very good that I could improve a lot. The last six days we have been working very hard and it has paid off. All is good and in the end we have found our way. Now we have the basic set-up of the bike and this is what we needed and what we wanted to have at this stage. We are very happy with how the test has gone and what we have achieved today, so we are feeling very positive.”
-SIC Racing Team facebook.

Looking Ahead To Kuala Lumpur

Eighteen WTA events will take place this year in Asia-Pacific, with the tour swinging through Australia and Oceania at the beginning of the season and returning to the Far East after the US Open. The BMW Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur falls on the first week of March, signaling the end of the first swing.

First staged in 2010, the BMW Malaysian Open has become an anticipated event in the region - in 2014, it was televised to a global audience of over 300 million households across 47 countries. Won by Alisa Kleybanova at its inaugural staging, Kuala Lumpur has since been captured by Jelena Dokic, Hsieh Su-Wei, the second Taiwanese to secure a WTA title, Karolina Pliskova and Donna Vekic, who at 17 during the 2014 staging became the WTA's youngest titlist in almost seven years.

This year, the International-level draw is headlined by top seed Caroline Wozniacki, along with Sabine Lisicki, who accepted a wildcard to participate. This is the first time Lisicki will participate in the event, and she's seeking to make this one her first title of the season. Wozniacki, on the other hand, seeks to erase any bad memories from her last time in Kuala Lumpur - the Danish player's first and only match in the Malaysian capital was a loss in which she was upset by Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang in the first round.

In addition to the top-ranked players, a pair of WTA Rising Stars have their eyes on the BMW Malaysian Open title as Japan's Kurumi Nara and Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski return to Kuala Lumpur. Nara has had a great start to her season, reaching the semifinals in Hobart and Jovanovski is looking to better her 2011 quarterfinal run at this event. The 2013 champion, Hsieh, also returns as a wildcard entry. The doubles specialist has won two career singles titles, both in Asia.

Leaning Tower Of Teluk Intan Declared A National Heritage

photo: MOTAC facebook
TELUK INTAN, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tonight declared the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan as a National Heritage.

He said the tower, built in 1885 based on the Pagoda concept, had its own uniqueness as it reflected the rich influence of the Chinese culture and architecture.

"The history of the building which serves as a landmark for Bandar Teluk Intan is very unique because its focus is to serve the people. "It serves as a water tank during the dry season and also has fire extinguishing facility.

"The clock at the tower also symbolises unity of the people of Teluk Intan because it is from contributions and donations from local residents then," he said in his speech at the Malaysian Chinese New Year Open house here.

Muhyiddin said the Leaning Tower had become one of the attractions for tourists arriving in Perak, like that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

He congratulated the National Heritage Department, an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and also the Perak government, especially the Teluk Intan Municipal Council, for their success in getting the recognition as a National Heritage for the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan.

He said the government was also in the process of getting an international recognition for the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan to be in the list of UNESCO's World Heritage.

"Indeed, efforts to maintain and preserve heritage and culture is a collective responsibility. "Hopefully, it will also promote Teluk Intan as a centre of attraction for domestic and foreign tourists," he added.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015 ARRC Calendar Announced

The FIM Asia Road Racing Championship is set to kick off its highly anticipated 20th season as the championship promoter released its 2015 race calendar that will see six rounds take place in five countries across Asia with Japan no longer hosting two rounds.
Sticking to traditions, the opening round takes place at Sepang, Malaysia (April 16-19) followed by the Sentul Circuit in Indonesia (June 4-7) with the mid-season round hosted in Japan at the historical Suzuka Circuit (July 1-5).

The only revision to the race calendar is that the Thailand and Qatar round have been switched around in the second half of the season. FIA-grade approved Buriram Circuit that held the penultimate round in 2014 will now stage the fourth and final round from the 27 to 30 August and second to sixth December respectively.

Meanwhile the floodlit Losail Circuit in Doha, Qatar that held the grand finale for the past five seasons will now host the penultimate round (September 30 – October 3).

Provisional 2015 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Race Calendar
Official pre-season test – 1 to 3 April
Round 1, Sepang, Malaysia – 16 to 19 April
Round 2, Sentul, Indonesia – 4 to 7 June
Round 3, Japan – 1 to 5 July
Round 4, Buriram, Thailand  - 27-30 August
Round 5, Losail, Qatar – 30 September to 3 October
Round 6, Buriram, Thailand – 2 to 6 December