Address: Autodromo Di Franciacorta S.R.L., Via Bargnana, Provincia di Brescia, Italy
PH: +39 030 704 0677
Circuit type: Permanent road course
Franciacorta is a modern circuit built from the enthusiasm of a local building contractor, who decided to convert a former quarry into an international motor racing circuit. Having briefly attracted the likes of the FIA European Touring Car Cup, more recent financial difficulties have cast a pall over the venue.
Ettore Bonara's vision began to take shape in 2005, when he began work constructing the first phase of the development, which covers some 500,000 square metres of land on the edge of a beautiful area rich in vineyards, landscapes, history and castles. The initial track measures just 1.4km and featured just eight pit garages - tiny by any standards but enough to get the project out of the ground.
In 2006, this initial circuit was extended to 2.4km, used for tests, track days and other car club activities. This too was only ever intended as a stepping stone towards the full length circuit, which was subsequently created at the end of 2007. This featured a new loop in its second half and greatly expanded pit and paddock facilities. Pit garaging was now provided for 24 vehicles, while there is also a restaurant and club, fast food outlets, bar and conferencing facilities and an outdoor velodrome.
Racing events commenced on the extended course in 2008, with Franciacorta hosting rounds of the Yamaha R125 Cup , KTM Duke Trophy and the CIV Junior series, among others.
The highest profile event to date has been the aforementioned FIA European Touring Car Cup event in 2010. Danish driver Michel Nykjær took the spoils for Seat, ahead of Honda drivers Thomas Engström and eventual champion James Thompson.
In 2012, Italian entrepreneur and gentleman racer Andrea Mame took a significant stake in the operating company, allowing Bonara to take more of a back seat. Just a year later the circuit was dealt a major blow when Mame was killed in an horrific accident during a Lamborghini Super Trofeo race at Paul Ricard in France. Slowly the company's finances began to unravel. Things came to a head in October 2015, when the Italian tax authorities swooped into the paddock during the middle of a drift event and promptly sealed off the circuit for unpaid debts.
After a brief period of closure, the courts agreed to allow the circuit to open once again, under lease to Bonara, with the first events taking place in December. A full programme of events is being planned for 2016 while, in parallel, the company's Franciacorta International Circuit company's bankruptcy proceedings continue through the courts. Hopefully a sustainable future can be agreed upon for the benefit of all parties.
The Autodromo di Franciacorta is located at Bargnana near Brescia in Italy. Bergamo's Orio al Serio International Airport (40 minutes) and Brescia's Gabriele D'Annunzio Airport (30 minutes) are the closest by car, although Milan's Linate Airport is also within easy driving distance (45 minutes).
The circuit can be reached from the A4 Milan-Venice motorway. Exit at Ospitaletto and follow the provincial road SP19 to its junction with the SP 18 and follow the directions for Castrezzato and the circuit. Alternatively, take the A35 motorway and exit at Castrezzato and follow signs to the circuit.