The latest country to see motor sport as a vehicle for positive growth and international prestige is Iran.
Yesterday one of F1’s leading PRs issued a statement on behalf of the TSI Group, based in Tehran, which laid out details of a new facility, which is already under construction just outside the capital city. Called iLand, it is a multi-purpose facility with a 5km motor racing circuit at its heart.
The facility has not been designed by F1’s favourite architect Herman Tilke, but rather by a UK agency called Apex Circuit Design.
The press statement says, “The iLand Race Resort will comprise a 5.0km race circuit built in the style of the classic ‘naturally contoured’ circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), the Nürburgring Nordschleife (Germany) and Donington Park (UK). It is to be built on a parcel of land of 75 hectares that is 1,100m above sea level, with a natural topography range of 22m. It will be serviced by a country club, expo centre and road safety training school and will be linked to the wider nearby development through the iLand Central Business District. Initial groundworks have commenced for construction and Phase 1, the West circuit, is scheduled for completion in 2012, with full construction and operation anticipated in 2013.”
The circuit’s initial aim is to be granted an FIA Grade 2 license, which would allow it to host events up to everything bar Formula 1. So this would include GP2, Indycar and LMP cars.
There will also be a kart circuit capable of hosting international events.
It sounds great and I’m a big advocate of motor sport reaching new frontiers, but it is hard to imagine the international motor sport community going to Iran any time soon.
Current advice from the UK Foreign Office regarding Iran is that “British travellers to Iran face greater risks than nationals of most other countries. There is therefore a risk that British nationals could be arbitrarily detained, despite their complete innocence. Independent travellers, especially if going off the beaten track face greater risk than those in tour groups or business visitors.”
Furthermore, “The Iranian authorities have in many cases failed to meet their international obligations to notify the relevant Embassies immediately that their nationals have been detained. There have been occasional cases of independent travellers detained for more than a month without access to anyone outside the Iranian system.”