Think the idea of Wales holding a MotoGP race on an all-new 3.5-mile circuit is pie in the sky? Well, I’m more convinced than ever after a chat with one of the main men behind the Ebbw Vale Circuit in the Heads of the Valleys.
I must admit that in a former life as editor of MCN, we ran some stories about the plan, yet despite confirmation it was actually, real from my news editor, part of me felt it was some kind of wind-up, but I’m ready to eat my words. It’s growing at a rate of knots.
As previously reported widely and on Bike Social, DORNA boss, Carmelo Ezpeleta, has said he’s interested in holding MotoGP on the circuit and according to my man, they have a provisional date for July 2015. That’s provisional as in they don’t have a circuit built yet, and have yet to get planning permission, but I’m told all of that is on track and they expect to have planning permission cleared by June.
When Ezpeleta was in town he was wined and dined by none other than former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, who grew-up a mile from where the proposed site sits, and whatever tour of London Kinnock gave to Ezpeleta, the man from DORNA was obviously impressed as has already given it his public backing. High praise indeed. If you’ve ever met him, or even seen him on television, you know that Ezpeleta doesn’t mince his words and is not a man to suffer fools.
Momentum is building, and a further meeting with DORNA took place in Texas last week, some suggestions were made to one of the corners, some tweaks made to the design and some of the top riders, including our very own Cal Crutchlow have already given it the thumbs-up.
In principal the track already has an agreement to run Touring Cars, MotoGP, and British Superbikes, and have worked with other circuit owners to keep them on side. Well, most of them at least.
Rumour has it that Silverstone aren’t too impressed and are nervous about a rival circuit gunning for F1, but in all reality it would take the backing of a small country to buy the rights to run F1 in Wales and it’s not the circuits ambition to run F1, however, along with city backers, they do have the backing of the Welsh Government for the 830-acre site, so anything is possible.
Other objections are from the Open Spaces Society who claim it will damage valuable wildlife, but for every claim, the organisers seem to have a counter attack.
That’s helped by the plan to attract 6000-7000 jobs in one of the poorest areas of the UK, something that the Welsh government is readily backing. But organisers are also keen to attract business to the area, stop kids from riding illegally in the mountains and provide enduro and trials schools, create an academy for riding, get local youngsters trained up as engineers, grow businesses around the circuit to support it, and really put South Wales on the map again.
Public forums in town halls, and shopping centres are being held over the next two weeks to illustrate the plans and get feedback before the planning is approved, so if you’re in Wales, get yourself along.
The circuit itself is being designed by the same team who designed the Olympic Park and the Silverstone Wing and the organisers expect it to offer a unique experience for fans. Expect under cover seating and undercover bike parking, so whatever the weather you never have to get wet.
Perhaps a good idea as the circuit is positioned right on the edge of the Welsh moors on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. On the day Carmelo Ezpeleta saw the track site it was covered in low cloud and mist. As my man said: “ The rain couldn’t have been better, because he’ll only ever see it better than that.”
MotoGP in Wales in 2015? It may just happen yet.