By: CECÍLIA PIRES
AUTÓDROMO INTERNACIONAL do Algarve, the ambitious race track under construction in Portimão, will be ready in time for the Portuguese round of the Superbike World Championship, scheduled for November 2.
Construction work only started in September, after seven years of paperwork, but the builders are working day and night to have everything finished by the end of October.
Paulo Pinheiro, CEO of Parkalgar, the Portuguese company which owns the project and which will be managing it, is confident about reaching the finishing line and is already focusing on winning the first World Superbike Championship round to be held in Portugal.
That, he says, will happen through the Parkalgar Racing Team that was created in 2004 and is made up of Portuguese rider Miguel Praia and Englishman Craig Jones, who signed recently with the team to replace the Italian Simone Sanna.
The competition’s calendar is official and “we have a safety net of a couple of weeks, so all will be ready in October”, he told The Resident.
This new facility, and all that is involved with it, said Paulo Pinheiro, “will be an excellent alternative to the existing products of the Algarve and it will attract about one million new visitors per year”.
The environmental impact of the racing track has, however, been one of the concerns, mainly for those living nearby, but Paulo Pinheiro has assured the public that Parkalgar is aware of that concern and says “all is being done to minimise the impact”. In fact, he said: “When we started this project, seven years ago, our first step was to contact the environmental agencies and NGO’s for their advice”.
Environmental Impact Studies were carried out by the best in the country and approved with a commendation from the environmental organisations.
But, aware that the biggest impact could be noise, Paulo Pinheiro is confident that the sound barriers that will be built will minimise the effect on neighbours as much as possible.
However, he says, “one cannot be naïve. A project like this will necessarily have some impact and what I would like people to understand is that we are taking action; hence the Algarve Motor Park is there to stay for a long time”.
The compound occupies an area of 300 hectares, including a racing track offering 64 variations, the longest being 4,692 metres, for Formula 1 competitions. The circuit is already approved by FIA for Formula One and by FIM for the Moto Grand Prix.
A VIP tower is located by the finishing line, facing the paddock area and the central seats. A main building, media centre and medical centre, complement the central structure.
This will all be inside a larger development that also includes a kart racing track almost two kilometers long, a sports and spa unit and a technological centre that will host companies working in the auto industry.
“We are now talking with 17 companies, two of them Portuguese,” said Parkalgar’s CEO, adding that this might boost a new auto cluster in the national industry.
According to Paulo Pinheiro, “the strongest impact in terms of business development will be felt within about 30 kilometres of the site” and this is only the immediate effect.
And, as the biggest investment in the region at present, he says the Algarve Motor Park will certainly boost the region’s economy.
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