MotoGP, how the Termas track was reborn after the fire: concrete, finish line, asphalt

The engineer Zaffelli, who oversaw the restoration, explains the details of the reconstruction work on the structures damaged by the fire last year: “The main building will be in safer fireproof material, the previous structures were prefabricated which melted one on top of each other “

Lorenzo Pastuglia

If Melbourne returns to host F1 after a two-year stop for Covid, the same goes for Termas de Río Hondo in MotoGP. The Argentine circuit was also the subject of a very strong fire in February 2021, due to a short circuit in the main electrical panel that destroyed the entire pit building. Today, just over a year later, the building including the 37 garages was completed last month, “while the work on the interior cladding, in particular the media-center, the workers are in the final stages”. Word of Jarno Zaffelli, 45-year-old designer and owner of the Emilian studio “Dromo”, which since 2000 has been applying his knowledge to the world of racetracks. The one who designed the Termas circuit from scratch, and has just finished updating the Spa-Francorchamps track.

no steel but concrete

The Argentine circuit is 4,806 km long and hosted the first MotoGP tests nine years ago. Born between 2012 and 2013 on the ashes of the old original 4.3 km track, which remained active from 2007 to 2011. Zaffelli told us how the drivers will find the track upon their return: “The pit-building area was rebuilt in concrete – he said – No longer in steel, as the local firm that had secured the contract had done through prefabricated structures ”. A safer building, because the past was not fireproof, nor did it present the concepts “that we find in Monza – added the 45-year-old – a structure built with retardant foam on the metal structures, to avoid its possible collapse in the event of ‘fire”. A fact that unfortunately took place in Termas, “so much so that the structures there have dissolved one on top of the other”.

moved the finish line

A damage paid entirely by insurance and which, net of inflation in Argentina (the real one is close to 60%), was around 12 million euros, “to remove the burnt carcass and proceed with the construction of the new structure “. Again painted red, and designed with a different positioning of the areas on the second floor – from the media center, to the Dorna, Fim and Race Control offices -, as well as a panoramic terrace on the third level, accessible only for those with access to the area -vip. Among the other innovations of the circuit: the incorporation of the timekeeping room (the timing room) within the pit-building, and the displacement of the finish line by 200 meters towards the grid, therefore no longer near the last corner, the 14.

dirty track to be gummed

Last mention should be made to the track, which since 2013 has never been touched in its layout. It was only partially resurfaced in 2017 in the sections between 10-11 and 4-5, due to a lowering of the soil of five centimeters due to the narrowing of the lake next door. The riders will find an asphalt that is not very abrasive as always, and will not initially push to the maximum due to the lack of grip: “The track is still very dirty and will have to be rubberized – added Zaffelli – so much so that in recent days the organizers have been running on the track with some cars to clean it. The sand, the humidity coming from the lake and the atmospheric dust contribute, but the main cause is due to the scarce use of the plant “.

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