Algarve International race track inaugurated

THE new ‘Algarve International Motor Park’ (Autodromo Internacional do Algarve) was opened with the Portuguese round of the World Superbike Championship.

 The Portimao race track has come in for substantial praise from both Superbike riders and team bosses, following the first two days of action around the new circuit. The Australian rider of the Yamaha Motor Italia Team, Troy Corser, said he was particularly impressed with the circuit. “I love the layout of this track,” he said, adding, “I like going to new tracks and the challenge of learning them and building up knowledge, bit by bit.”

Yamaha Italia team boss, Massimo Meregalli, also said he was impressed with the quality of the facilities and the infrastructure. “It is an unbelievable track, one of the most beautiful circuits in the world,” he said, stressing, “They did a great job here, and all in ten months. I think it is also a good winter test-venue, especially as it is in Europe.”

Approximately 195 million euros have been spent in the development of the sports and tourism complex, making it the biggest investment ever in the Algarve. The project includes a karting track, technology park, luxury five-star hotel, sports complex and apartments.

The circuit has already been approved by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to host Formula One races. It is expected that more than a thousand new jobs will be created by the ‘Autodrome’ project and tourist levels will substantially increase as visitors flock to see the sporting contests, all of which will have a positive impact on the local and national economy.

Sunday’s Superbike event included a number of races, with Australian, Troy Bayliss winning the World Superbike race. Bayliss, the three-times World Superbike champion, retired from racing after the Algarve event, celebrating a career that has seen him tally up a total of 52 race wins and 26 poles over nine seasons. He said, “This was the perfect end to my racing career, to finish with pole and a double win, an absolute fantastic result. I’ve won the championship and finished my career in one piece so it’s incredible really.”

The winner of the World Supersport race was Turkish rider, Kenan Sofuoglu.

Josh Hayes, the American racer on Algarve’s home team - Parkalgar Honda - led the race and won the hearts of the Portuguese crowd, but sadly missed out on the rostrum by just 0.042seconds, finishing fourth.

Parkalgar Honda’s home favourite, Miguel Praia, scored a season’s best 12th place finish coming from 18th on the grid. To celebrate, he stripped down to his underwear and threw his riding kit to the crowd, eliciting enormous cheers and applause.

Parkalgar Honda racer, Craig Jones, who was the team’s highest finisher in the World Championship, with a seventh place, and was tragically killed in a racing incident in August, is honoured at the circuit with the technical turn, nine, named after him and a memorial statue.

Miguel Praia said, “I only wish I could have got a better result in front of my home crowd but 12th is my season’s best which is good. I decided to throw my riding kit to the crowd. The Portuguese fans are the best in the world and I thank them all for their support, both for me and the new circuit, this is a place to be very proud of.” Josh Hayes added: “That was a great race and I am just disappointed that I didn’t get on the podium for the team or our main sponsor, the circuit.”

Simon Buckmaster, Parkalgar Honda Team Manager said, “Just like Josh and the 91,000 fans here this weekend, I would have liked for him to have achieved a podium result, but it does not take away from the fact it has been a great team effort all round. It has also been a brilliant day for the Parkalgar Algarve Motor Park Circuit. The racing was close and exciting, the weather warm and the facilities second-to-none. It’s a great achievement, so well done to the Portuguese staff and event management, and a special congratulations to Paulo Pinheiro, the circuit and team owner, for this incredible achievement.”
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