JANUARY 12, 2005
The end for Jacarepagua?
Rio de Janeiro's Jacarepagua racing circuit, which played host to Formula 1 in the 1980s and Champ Cars in the 1990s is to be partially demolished as part of the plan to build a sports complex for the 2007 Pan-American Games. Rio de Janeiro is also looking at making a bid for the Olympic Games in 2016 having been turned down for 2012. The circuit, which is now named after Nelson Piquet is to be reduced in size from its current 3-mile length to just 1.67-miles, which means that it is no longer able to host major international events, without a special dispensation. The new track layout will mean that the flat oval used by Champ Cars will also cease to exist. The track will become part of what will be known as the Speedway Sports Complex which the Rio Prefecture seems to think will be able to host international competitions. The FIA regulations state that all races for F1, GTs and sports cars should race on tracks which are a minimum of 2.17-miles although the wording, as ever, is confusing as the minimum lengths "will be taken into consideration when determining the eligibility of a new or established circuit applying for an event counting towards an FIA Championship". The Sports Complex will also boast the Rio Olympic Arena, where the basketball and artistic gymnastics competitions will occur; the Barra Velodrome, for the track cycling races; and the National Aquatic Center, for swimming, synchronized swimming and diving events. The Arena and the Aquatic Center will be able to accommodate 15,000 spectators respectively while the Velodrome will have room for 5,000.
Rio's mayor Cesar Maia says he has consulted Bernie Ecclestone on the matter - Ecclestone flew over the site last autumn - but it hard to see how a Grand Prix could ever take place on such a small circuit. The Monaco circuit is 2.0-miles in length and the shortest on the F1 calendar.
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