Ahead of the 2021 Hankook 24H BARCELONA on 3-4-5 September, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has completed work to reinstate a modified version of turn 10 last used in 2004.
Both the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) have approved work conducted on-track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during the off-season.
Work began in January at the Montmeló-based venue, home to the annual 24H BARCELONA since 1998, to reinstate a modified version of the old turn 10. In its original guise, turn 10 – La Caixa – was a long left-hander that fed into the long right at the stadium section at turn 11. However, this profile was abandoned when a sharper left-handed turn, requiring harder braking, was introduced in 2004. MotoGP continued to use the ‘old’ configuration until the tragic passing of Moto2 racer Luis Salom in 2016, at which point all series were required to use the ‘new F1’ entry at turn 10.
The completed work at turn 10, which also included a full resurface, means the circuit has now reinstated a tighter version of the old long left-hander and dispensed with the ‘F1 corner’ introduced in 2004. In compliance with safety, La Caixa now features a “significantly extended run-off area”. Both the inner and outer kerbs have also been heavily reformatted.
Improvements, as required by the FIA, were also made to the kerbing in front of the grandstands at turn 13.
The completed work means the 16-corner Grand Prix circuit’s overall length has now been extended from 4.655km to 4.675km.
After inspecting the track in early February, FIA Head of Circuit and Rally Safety Stuart Robertson and FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini both gave the green light for track activity to proceed. A private test session for upwards of 20 drivers running touring cars, GT machinery and LMP-style protypes was conducted the following day without incident.
Alongside its reprofile work at turn 10, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is also continuing to enhance its health and safety protocols in the wake of Covid-19. On top of the universal social distance and facemask parameters, all international teams must submit negative results of a PCR test made at least 72 hours before arriving at the track.
Inaugurated on 10 September 1991 after a 20-month build and development period, the Circuit de Catalunya hosted its first event, a round of the Campeonato de España de Turismos just five days later, welcoming Formula 1 for the venue’s first Spanish Grand Prix on 29 September. When hosted again this year on 7-9 May, it will mark 30 consecutive years that Barcelona has featured on the F1 race calendar.
In 1998, the Circuit de Catalunya (as it then was, only adopting the ‘Barcelona’ name in 2013) hosted the first running of the ’24 Horas de Barcelona’ for professional and gentlemen drivers alike. Won by Javier Buch, Santiago Puig, Pau Romero and Francesc Gutiérrez, the latter of whom is now a two-time overall and multi-time class winner, the 1998 and 1999 editions differ from their successors as the only rounds to use the shorter, 3.069km National layout rather than full Grand Prix circuit. ’99 edition meanwhile featured a young Spanish up-and-comer called Fernando Alonso and future Daytona 24 Hours winner Antonio García aboard a 114hp Hyundai Accent.
Though the 24H BARCELONA escalated in popularity during the early 2000s, during which Oscar Nogués Farré set the benchmark with four overall wins, the worldwide recession and SEAT Sport’s gradual dominance saw grid numbers sharply decline and the race shelved altogether in 2010. In 2011 though, and with CREVENTIC now positioned as the promoter, the Hankook 24H BARCELONA was reborn as an event catering to GT and TCE teams, and, more significantly, international entrants. Indeed, the most notable celebrated competitors to-date during the CREVENTIC era include three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, 13-time Women's Trial World Champion Laia Sanz, five-time Dakar Rally winner Marc Coma, Le Mans and Daytona winner Jan Lammers, and former Formula 1 driver Bruno Senna.
Worldwide circumstances ultimately prevented the Hankook 24H BARCELONA from going ahead in 2020. However, the ‘Trofeo Fermí Vélez’, named in honour of the two-time Sebring 12 Hours winner who passed away in 2003, returns to the 24H SERIES calendar in 2021 on 3-4-5 September. Even seven months ahead of the green flag dropping, interest continues to flood in for the 22nd annual Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
- IMAGES – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Petr Frýba