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Wednesday 7 July 2021

Victoria Falls F1 circuit construction reaches major milestone

Ricky Zililo & Innocent Kurirwa, Sports Reporters
PLANS to construct a Grand Prix Circuit in the resort city of Victoria Falls have reached a major milestone, with experts taking to the simulator to review the track design.

Proposed Victoria Falls F1 circuit

The circuit, which is expected to add more glamour to the country’s premier resort city, has seen a number of international motorsport professionals taking to the circuit layout, including ex-Formula 1 driver and Sky Sports F1 technical pundit Karun Chandhok, sharing the simulator track model with Karun, who did a number of laps on the simulator, and providing useful feedback even before actual construction begins.

Designs for the circuit, to be known as the Zambezi River International Circuit, were submitted to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for approval before actual work can begin.

It will be constructed 30km east of Victoria Falls along the Batoka Gorge close to the Zambezi River on a 500-hectare estate, and will be the only FIA Grade 1 circuit in Africa when completed.

The 5 416 metre-long F1 motor racing course is expected to attract the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the FIA and owned by the F1 Group.

The main circuit will be 5.4km long with a 1.07km kart track and 1.2km drag strip, and is envisaged to host about four or five international motorsports a year.

In addition to the motorsport tracks, the circuit will also have 325m three storey pit garage that will also have conference facilities, a medical facility, theme-park, gorge coasters, cracking glass sky walkway and a live conservation theme park headlined by a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark.

The circuit has been designed by award winning RIBA Chartered UK firm, Driven International, in partnership with local engineers in accordance with FIA Grade 1 guidelines.

After driving on the virtual Victoria Falls circuit, Chandhok said: “The Zambezi River International Circuit has a great flow to it. Unlike a lot of recently built tracks that are quite stop-start, on this one you can put up a lap with a brilliant rhythm and speed to it.”

Dan Selby of Driven International, who steered the layout design review, said a beautiful setting deserves a beautiful track.

“So much excites me about this project; the setting, the natural topography, the expansion of motorsport in Africa.

The track design itself is a particularly unique layout, with some experimental corner geometry and we have maximised on the topographical opportunities through our design”, said Selby.

The facility will be powered by solar electricity and where possible, the undulating natural landscaping will be used as a spectator viewing area, ensuring much of the site’s rich beauty will not only remain intact, but be accentuated and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

If constructed, the circuit will boost sports tourism after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) shelved plans to build a multi-purpose stadium in Victoria Falls in 2016 due to financial constraints.

ZC had received approval to build a 12 000-seater cricket stadium in the resort city in 2010.

In 2018, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) announced that it had found an investor to help build a rugby stadium in Victoria Falls following the inauguration of the Kwese Sports sevens tournament that was planned to be staged in the country’s tourism capital until next year.

ZRU also approached the Victoria Falls City Council seeking permission to upgrade Chinotimba Stadium into a top-class venue as part of its aim to develop the game in the resort town and to attract international events and clubs.

However, none of ZRU’s wishes have borne fruit, leaving the Grand Prix Circuit as the only hope for Victoria Falls and the country to boost tourism through sport.

Source : Victoria Falls F1 circuit construction reaches major milestone (The Chronicle, 06/07/21)

Read more : Everything we know about Zimbabwe’s Formula 1 track (25/01/20)

New Vic Falls sporting facility a boom for sports tourism (28/01/20)