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MotoGP is coming to Russia

MotoGP’s possible and long-awaited arrival in Russia has become the talk of the town in the motorcycling world amid the global financial crisis.

Compared to other European countries and even the United States, Russia’s situation is rather favorable at the moment. Besides, the construction of several new circuits is continuing, and they will be ready to host a MotoGP race someday soon.

Theoretically, there are two Russian circuits that could apply for the right to organize MotoGP – the Moscow Raceway and Smolenskoye Koltso (Smolensk Ring).

The mastermind behind the Moscow Raceway project is Germany’s renowned architect Hermann Tillke. Its construction is to be completed by the year 2010. Initially, investment in the project was calculated at RUB 5.5bn (approx. USD170.8m), though considering the financial crisis, this amount can actually be increased. The site of construction is located 77km northwest of Moscow (New Riga Highway). Construction was initiated by Russian and foreign individuals, and the track – which will be 4,070 meters long - will be built by German companies. The stadium will boast a capacity of 100,000 visitors per day, and the central guest center will also offer restaurants, shops and a conference hall.

The new track will measure 12-21 meters wide, with a total construction area of 72 hectares. According to the plan, there will be 15 track corners, including 9 left corners and 6 right corners. The longest straight will span 873 meters. The height discontinuity will be 22 meters, with rises of up to 4% and dips as low as 4.5%. The Moscow Region’s government was earlier quoted as saying that a new road junction would also be built next to the circuit. The circuit will be built by the company STRABAG. The project’s managing director is Hans Geist, who previously worked as general director of Austria-based A-1 Ring and one of the supervisors of the Bahrain track construction.

When it comes to the Smolenskoye Koltso, the “royal” architect of Formula-1 tracks, Herman Tillke, yet again lent a helping hand. It is 3,362 meters long and 12-15 meters wide, with 13 corners (8 left and 5 right ones). The longest straight is 575 meters, with the circuit to occupy a total area of 23.2 hectares. The design work was done in accordance with the requirements of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for category II tracks. Once a relative license is obtained, Smolenskoye Koltso will be eligible for hosting automobile races, with the exception of Formula-1. Once the track is upgraded, however, it can stage Formula-1 as well.

Both tracks are now in the middle of construction. According to optimistic forecasts, Smolenskoye Koltso is currently being asphalted and will be opened this year. It is approximately 320km from Moscow. Moscow Raceway laid the first stone on October 1, 2008.

Generally speaking, the arrival of the world’s well-known motor race brands in Russia looks especially promising at the moment. A new round of active talks with MotoGP officials is strong testament to this. In the middle of December 2008, this issue was already raised between Dorna Sports (the owner of commercial rights for MotoGP series) and president of the Motorcycling Federation of Russia Alexander Nifontov. The parties discussed the possibility of organizing a MotoGP event for 2011 or 2012 at one of Russia’s tracks. As a result, a working group is to be established as early as the spring of 2009 to prepare MotoGP in Russia. In addition, there is another possibility on the agenda to look forward to - having a Russian racer participate in Russian MoroGP.

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