Never in the history of the prestigious IRTA "Best Grand Prix" has a first-time host circuit been awarded the honor, until this year.
The 2010 IRTA "Best Grand Prix" award goes to MotorLand Aragon, the dazzlingly modern circuit which overcame intimidating obstacles as a replacement race to triumph on a MotoGP calendar filled with world class facilities.
The challenging Aragon layout, coupled with the exquisite teams facilities, the cooperation and warm Iberian welcome everyone enjoyed from the organisers, citizens, and businesses in the region, along with a strong endorsement from the MotoGP riders, made the 2010 Gran Premio A-Style de Aragon the clear favorite for race of the year accolades.
In winning the prize, MotorLand Aragon joins legacy circuits, and former Best Grand Prix winners, Jerez, Catalunya, and Valencia as the fourth Spanish track to achieve the honor.
The country which gave us World Champions and runners-up in all three MotoGP classes, leads the way with nine winners in the 27-year history of the award. That MotorLand Aragon won first time out is testament to the extraordinary work of the organizing committee led by Jose Angel Biel, President of MotorLand Aragon Circuit.
While most of the MotoGP circuits know a year in advance whether they’ll be included on the grand prix calendar, MotorLand Aragon had half that time. The race track, which was the first reserve circuit, was placed on the calendar on March 18, just over six months before the Sept. 19 race date.
Once given the green light circuit management immediately began preparations to host the most prestigious World Championship, making sure that when the MotoGP teams, riders, and spectators arrived at the track near Alcañiz they would be well taken care of.
Located 200km southwest of Barcelona, the Aragon track, which was built with local government backing, was designed by famed architect Hermann Tilke.
Also the prestigious British firm of architects, Foster + Partners, has contributed with the design of the upcoming Leisure and Culture area at Aragon. The third area is a technology park (TechnoPark). The end result is multi-purpose motorsports complex based on the pillars of technology, sports and leisure and culture.
Spreads across the track’s 5.077 km MotoGP layout are a combination of 17 corners of varying speeds, mixed in with elevation changes.
Because of the MotoGP testing ban, none of the premier class riders were allowed to test their prototypes prior to the Aragon race. But they were allowed to ride other equipment, which many riders took advantage of.
Jorge Lorenzo (2010 MotoGP Champion, Fiat Yamaha) says: "I really like this track. It’s so fun to ride and it is quite different, a new challenge. It is interesting to ride the M1 here after coming here on an R1."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team MotoGP, qualified second at Aragon) says: "I think they’ve built a track they can be proud of. It’s a nice facility, the layout is good and safe. There are some fun sections with blind entries, some fast corners and some slow ones… it’s a nice mix."
Though the MotoGP track is ultra-modern, it has roots in the past. The Alcañiz Street Circuit hosted its first City of Alcañiz GP in September 1965, with races running right through to 2003.
As cars became more powerful and speeds increased, it became increasingly more difficult to host a safe event. As the millennium drew near, a plan was made to build a motorsports complex. Motorland Aragon is a public corporation created in 2001 as "Motor City of Aragon."
IRTA President Herve Poncharal noted the circuit’s quick work to prepare for the MotoGP event in announcing the award.
Herve Poncharal says: "This is a very special year for this award. We’ve had the pleasure of honoring many great tracks, but none in the first year of their existence. And none which had only six months to organize their first ever grand prix. That they were able to do it was impressive and historic; they are the first track ever to win the award on the first try."
"As we all know, Spanish motorcycle fans are second to none. There was some concern that having a fourth race in Spain would be a problem, but that wasn’t the case. The race drew a very strong crowd of over 70,000 who were treated to fantastic MotoGP racing at a facility that is so much more than a race track. It’s also fitting that they join Jerez, Catalunya, and Valencia as a winner of the award."
"Having won in their ‘rookie’ year sets a standard that won’t be easy to match. How do you improve when you’re chosen as the best? However, I’m confident that won’t be a problem. Jose Angel Biel, President of MotorLand Aragon Circuit, and his staff worked tirelessly for six months to make the race the success it was, and the day after the race they began planning for 2011 MotoGP, when they take their proper place on the calendar."
IRTA Trophy Roll of Honor
1984: Silverstone / GB.
1985: Hockenheim / Germany.
1986: Nurburgring / Germany.
1987: Assen / Netherlands.
1988: Suzuka / Japan.
1989: Donington Park / GB.
1990: Jerez / Spain.
1991: Donington Park / GB.
1992: Catalunya / Spain.
1993: Eastern Creek / Australia.
1994: Eastern Creek / Australia.
1995: Mugello / Italy.
1996: Mugello / Italy.
1997: Mugello / Italy.
1998: Phillip Island / Australia.
1999: Brno / Czech Republic.
2000: Mugello / Italy.
2001: Catalunya / Spain.
2002: Valencia / Spain.
2003: Valencia / Spain.
2004: Brno / Czech Republic.
2005: Valencia / Spain.
2006: Catalunya / Spain.
2007: Brno / Czech Republic.
2008: Losail / Qatar.
2010: MotorLand Aragon/Spain.