The first permanent circuit is western Africa, the Circuit de Dakar-Baobabs in Sindia, Senegal, was inspired the country's enthusiasm for motor racing fostered by the Dakar Rally, though it took more than a quarter of a century to become a reality.
Since opening in 2008, it has become host to a range of races, including the popular Dakar 6 Hours.
Fast and flowing, the circuit is well conceived, with wide run-off areas and relatively few barriers, meaning the chances of significant damage for errant racers is limited.
Efforts to kick start motor racing in Senegal actually pre-date the world famous Dakar Rally. In 1975 an official model depicting a permanent circuit was presented to the Senegalese Ambassador in Paris. The Senegalese capital was no stranger to racing, as it had hosted a six hour race on its streets since the 1950s, however, nothing came of these original plans.
Fast forward to the 2000s and the circuit got a major boost when Belgian entrepreneur Paul Libens, who had been based in Senegal for 27 years, bought an 80 hectares site at Sindia, around 60 km south of Dakar and only 20 km from the coastal resort town of Saly, complete with its hotels, bars and tourist facilities. He enlisted his son-in-law Jean-André Collard to draw up the circuit plans.
Very quickly tarmac was laid and the 4.700 km circuit emerged, featuring 21 bends and a mix of fast and technical corners. Minor modifications to the pit lane entry aside, the track remains as it was originally built, though with infrastructure improvements over the years, including circuit buildings which follow the local architectural vernacular.
One major plus for the area is its climate: the chances of a race or test getting washed out by rain are slim at best, and indeed the weather usually remains completely dry from November through to May.
The track is also a site under customs control, helping competitors avoid the administrative costs of ATA carnets and also all export formalities.
In 2008 the 28th edition of the 6 Hours of Dakar was held for the first time on the Circuit of Dakar Baobabs, where it has remained ever since. Victory was taken by the Porsche of the Belgian duo Gérard de Ville de Goyet and Gérard Marcy, while Dakar legend Jacky Ickx was also in attendance.
Today the track is best known for local races and also endurance races. In 2011 a 1000km race was held as well as the traditional 6 Hours event, while 2013 saw the introduction of the Grand Prix Historique de Dakar .
- Circuit de Dakar-Baobabs de Sindia, Route de Thiès, Sindia, Senegal
- Email the circuit
- Official website
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