Cars race by at the inaugural HK Formula ePrix
Some of us found the setting more impressive than the cars...
If you had asked me before this past weekend what was the least likely thing I'd do in Hong Kong, my answer might well have been along the lines of "go watch a car race". It's not just that I'm not a fan of cars and racing in general but, also, because I think the Big Lychee isn't the most conducive place for it since, among other things, its society is one of the least car-oriented I know; with most of its populace not knowing how to drive as well as not owning private cars.
Somehow or other though, Hong Kong ended up hosting international motor races this past weekend. But while some people thought this a very big deal (that warranted the temporary closure of roads in the usually pretty busy Central Harbourfront area and a number of traffic diversions for more than 48 hours), my general sense is that most folks really didn't think too much about the first ever edition of the Hong Kong ePrix which also was the inaugural race of the 2016-2017 FIA Formula E championship season.
If I had to pay to watch, I definitely would not have gone. But a friend -- who actually had about the same amount of not so much enthusiasm as curiosity as me about the event -- had complimentary grandstand seat tickets. So off we went to check things out for a couple of hours or so!
The real, serious championship race took place on Sunday but my friend and I opted instead to go check out the e-Touring Car Challenge Race which took place the day before. Our reason? Not only would it be the very first Grand Prix-style car race run in Hong Kong but its drivers included some names we were familiar with, on account of their not only being from this part of the world but also actually being entertainment celebrities rather than professional racecar drivers!
As it turned out, my friend and I got to the event venue early enough to catch sight of a charity car parade featuring glamorous looking Ferraris, Lamborghinis and their ilk that we non-car experts couldn't decide if they were actually electric cars or not! We also spent time strolling around the carnival style "eVillage" which was supposed to have an "electrifying entertainment for young and old" but really didn't think anything all that exciting was taking place there.
Probably due to our expectations having been considerably lowered in the preceding time that we had spent at this event venue, my friend and I ended up enjoying watching the 10-lap e-Touring Challenge Car Race quite a bit! Granted that we couldn't actually see the faces of the likes of Alex Fong Chung Sun, Aaron Kwok, Chin Ka Lok and Pakho Chau but it was fun to see how they performed behind the wheels of the electric-powered Volkswagen e-Golfs that were the race's designated race vehicles.
In addition, there was the bonus of a few car crashes over the course of the race adding some excitement to the event, yet not unduly worrying anyone as a result of the cars not appearing to be moving all that fast. It also was entertaining to have the lead dramatic changing hands late in the race due in part, it turned out, to the cars having only been 80 per cent charged because of time constraints rather than be fully charged as should have been the case!
If truth be told, it all seemed more funny, even downright farcical, than serious -- and I certainly would not consider what I saw of this event to have been great advertising for ecars in general and grand prix prospects in Hong Kong. Still, I did end up having fun for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon whose weather turned out to be quite a bit more pleasant than had been forecasted just a few days earlier -- and I must say that I was happy enough with that! :)