World Superbikes set for South America debut in 2018
The World Superbike championship has announced an Argentina round is lined up to join the 2018 calendar at the all-new Villicum circuit which is currently under construction on the west coast of the country.
The announcement was made during the race weekend of MotoGP's sole South American round at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina with the San Juan province circuit pencilled in to join the 2018 World Superbike calendar.
The Villicum circuit, which is still under construction after work began in October last year, will be given the official green light for World Superbikes once the new track receives homologation by the FIM later this year.
With the Argentina round arriving in 2018 it will mark the first time World Superbikes has hosted a round in South America.
Initial plans are to pencil in the round between July and August in order to act as a two-round flyaway tie-in with Laguna Seca in the USA in order to help logistical and travel costs.
MotoGP currently combines its flyaway to Argentina with its USA round at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
The track, designed by Argentine architect Leonardo Stella, will host a brand new hotel next to its 4.2km track which will have 19 corners in total (11 left and 8 right) and a 1.039km straight.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO, is thrilled to see World Superbikes travel to South American for the first time ever and is keen to see a repeat success of MotoGP's Argentina round.
"Without doubt this is very good news,” Ezpeleta said. “Knowing that Argentina will have a World Superbike Round is a solid step forward. The presence of the two of the most important world championships in motorbike racing in Argentina, reflects the passion of a country which has a vast and deep rooted history in motor sports."
WorldSBK boss Daniel Carrera has echoed Ezpeleta's comments and feels it is a positive sign to see the sport stretch into other developing regions where motorcycling is extremely popular.
"We are very proud that the government of San Juan selected WorldSBK to help develop the economic activity of the Circuit, and the province of San Juan,” Carrera said. “In recent years WorldSBK has been present in destinations around the world such as the United States, Thailand, Australia or Qatar, where events have been developed with great results.
"The Villicum Circuit is projected as a top-level facility, with an exciting track that will surely be welcomed by our paddock and all the fans of our sport in Argentina."
The Dakar Rally has passed through the San Juan province in recent years and the El Zonda circuit hosts racing events across the year. The new circuit is located on the symbolic Route 40, a 5,000km road which stretches from the north to the south of Argentina, along the Andes.
The Villicum circuit will be the first new track to join the World Superbike calendar since the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia enjoyed a three-year stint on the calendar between 2014-2016.