Circuit of Wales plans impress MotoGP boss

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Ambitious plans to build a new state-of-the-art motorsport complex in Wales have impressed MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta on his first visit to the proposed site of the £250m venture this week.

The new Circuit of Wales is currently going through the planning application process with local authorities, but if construction goes ahead on schedule in early July, the facility near Ebbw Vale will undoubtedly be one of the best in the world.

Not only will there will be a new 3.5 mile circuit to host MotoGP, World Superbikes and World Touring Car, but the site will accommodate a technology park, international standard karting track, hotel and leisure facilities and a top race academy to develop elite riders and drivers from around Europe.

A motocross track capable of hosting world championship events will also be incorporated into the vast 830 acre site.

If the circuit is granted planning consent, Ezpeleta said the Circuit of Wales would be a welcome addition to the MotoGP calendar as early as 2015.

That is when the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, which is behind the multi-million pound project, hope to have the site up and running.

Ezpeleta met with Circuit of Wales ambassador Lord Kinnock at the House of Lords on Monday and then later travelled to Cardiff to meet with Welsh Assembly member Edwina Hart, who is currently Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science in Wales.

The Spaniard was clearly impressed with the commitment to take the Circuit of Wales from ambitious plans to reality.

And speaking exclusively to MCN at the world renowned Celtic Manor Golf Resort, venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, Ezpeleta said: “I have been very impressed with the plans for the Circuit of Wales.

"The plans are fantastic and we have been talking with them for a long time. The first contact was at Qatar in 2010 but as you can imagine we get several approaches from people proposing to us a new track.

"From the beginning we could see how clever the people behind this project were and what they are trying to achieve. Each time we have spoken with them there has been progress and finally we are very close to this being a reality.

"We know that bike racing is hugely popular in the UK and the fans are some of the most knowledgeable in the world, so it would be great to see MotoGP and World Superbikes racing at the Circuit of Wales.”

World Superbike star Leon Haslam has been in regular contact with the team designing the layout of the track, giving a rider perspective on what makes a good track for competitors and spectators.

The Ten Kate Honda World Superbike rider told MCN he expects the circuit to be fast and flowing and similar to the Istanbul Park in Turkey or Portimao in Portugal.

He said: “What is going to make this track unique is the natural undulations.

"Portimao is the extreme with the changes of elevation but it makes it exciting and because this will be located in the Welsh hillsides, I can’t see a better setting for it.”

Nobody is keener to see the Circuit of Wales project come to fruition more than local hero Chaz Davies, who lives just an hour away from the proposed site.

He told MCN: “I wouldn’t have thought anything like this could happen in Wales a few years ago but it seems like a definite possibility now and it is going to be amazing for the area.

"I’m obviously quite biased but the Circuit of Wales team have been doing a great job and looking at plans for the circuit, it is going to be awesome to ride with lots of undulation.”

For the full story on the latest developments with the Circuit of Wales, see the February 6 issue of Motor Cycle News.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt