Jakarta – For the second time in less than three months, Indonesia will steal the show for motorsport enthusiasts around the world. On Saturday, Jakarta will host the Formula E race, the ninth stop of the season, at the newly built Jakarta International E-Prix Circuit in Ancol, North Jakarta, just near the city's most-prominent amusement park.
Hopes abound the Jakarta E-Prix will emulate the success of the Moto GP race held at the brand-new Mandalika circuit in Lombok in mid-March of this year. As in the Mandalika race, the measure of success is evident in not only the high turnout and international media coverage, but also the impact of the event on the national and local economies. Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said the Moto GP contributed Rp 4.5 trillion (US$311.8 million) to the country's GDP, far exceeding the government's estimate of Rp 800 billion.
To be fair, the Moto GP and the Jakarta E-Prix are beyond comparison. The former was practically a national agenda aimed at helping the economy regain ground following the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, a number of major state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including PT Pertamina and Bank Mandiri, sponsored the event.
The latter, on the other hand, is the initiative of the Jakarta government, with support of the central government. The organizing committee of the Jakarta E-Prix, however, claimed the central government has not done enough to back the event, as evident in the absence of big SOEs from the sponsorship list. The organizers have announced 31 corporate sponsors of the race; all but one – PT Pertamina Renewable Diesel, a subsidiary of Pertamina – are from the private sector.
In one way or another, however, the Jakarta E-Prix organizers have shown their mettle. The 2.4-kilometer track appears to be ready for today's practice, qualifying and the race itself. Cofounder of Formula E, Alberto Longo, has visited the circuit and expressed his confidence today's event would be the best race ever.
The organizers also claimed the 22,000 tickets inside the circuit have been sold out. People can still come to Ancol to feel the atmosphere of the race, albeit from big screens available in a number of spots around the amusement park.
For Jakarta, the E-Prix will test its ability to hold an international event of a higher level, such as the Formula One, in the future. For one, the Mandalika circuit authority is now setting its sight on the right to host an F-1 race, following the much-lauded Moto GP event.
Alternatively, Jakarta can stick to Formula-E, considering the prospect of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing. The industry is expected to boom in line with the world's energy transition and Indonesia has anticipated it by inviting investment in EV and its battery.
Therefore, we have more reasons to support the hosting of Formula-E in Jakarta or anywhere else the same way we throw our weight behind any effort to decarbonize the earth.
In this regard, whoever leads Jakarta after Governor Anies Baswedan leaves office this October should keep the Jakarta E-Prix on the city's agenda. As Anies put it, the race is just a sports event, so let us not politicize it.
The Jakarta E-Prix is part of Anies' legacy. Only time will tell whether he is eligible for the presidential race in 2024.