The Autodromo Internacional Algarve was launched over the weekend in Portimão, Portugal. The ceremony, which was attended by the Portuguese Minister for Economy and Innovation and the State Secretary for Sport, officially sanctioned the start of construction work for this state-of-the art structure.
Backed by a total investment of 195 million euros, the Autodromo will be officially inaugurated on November 2nd this year, when its first event will be the final round of the 2008 Superbike World Championship. As well as the circuit, the project also includes a karting track, a technology park, a five-star hotel, a sports complex and apartments.
Extending over almost 300 hectares, the circuit is the biggest investment ever to be implemented in the Algarve and is located in Escapadinho in the foothills of the coastal town of Portimão. It lies about one hour’s drive away from Faro airport and an additional exit road from the A22 motorway is also being built to facilitate access.
The track used for the Superbike race will measure 4.692 kilometres in length although 64 different variants of the overall layout will be possible, adapting to the needs of numerous different events, which one day could include Formula 1.
The mastermind behind the initiative is local entrepreneur and motorsport fanatic Paulo Pinheiro, for whom it represents a dream come true after seven years of commitment to the project.
"Building work is on schedule. In October the circuit will be completed, in order to enable us to inaugurate it with the Superbike race. We are convinced that this project will constitute an asset not only for the Algarve region but also for Portugal as a whole".
HANNspree Honda Ten Kate rider Carlos Checa, who was special guest at the ceremony, was enthusiastic after a first look at the circuit. "The track looks very impressive and the project is very serious. The most important thing is that it is safe and it looks that from everything we have seen today. It has slow corners and fast corners, is very versatile and will probably be one of the best circuits in Europe. I’ll be very curious to come back in November and see it all finished".
Paulo Pinheiro has also created a team for this year’s Supersport World Championship, the Parkalgar Racing Team, running Honda CBR600RR machines for Craig Jones and Miguel Praia, which was also presented at the circuit.