Laid out in the shape of a horse, the Ordos International Circuit (Chinese: 鄂尔多斯国际赛车场) is the strange but ultimately fitting motor racing venue in an area said to be the birthplace of Ghengis Khan in Inner Mongolia, China.
The first entirely Chinese-designed circuit, it has proved more of a white elephant than a great steed, as just like its eerily empty host city, it has failed to attract much attention after an initial burst of enthusiasm.
While it shot to prominence as the host of the short-live Superleague Formula and then the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2010, an increasingly sparse selection of national and regional races have been the mainstay in recent years.
Ordos International Circuit opened in 2010 and is the first track to be designed and developed entirely independently by the Chinese. Taking its inspiration from local culture, the unusual track layout mimics the outline of a horse dashing down from the grasslands, while the main grandstand features a roofline in the shape of a swooping eagle.
Whether either of these features lead to a better track layout or spectator experience is debatable, but they do leave you in little doubt as to the Inner Mongolian location. Cars racing for the Ghengis Khan Trophy provide further reinforcement for anyone still in doubt!
This combination of old traditions and new technology symbolises the larger project to create an automotive hub in Kangbashi district, a giant new construction of housing and public buildings which sprang up during the Chinese property building boom. Unfortunately, the new city remains largely uninhabited and eerily empty, one of many ghost cities that have emerged in China since the real estate bubble began to burst, with property prices in major cities overvalued by as much as 70 per cent. Nevertheless, there is money in 'old' Ordos, as it is one of China's major energy hubs, housing around a sixth of its coal reserves.
Completed in the summer of 2010, the circuit received FIA Grade 2 certification the same September, allowing it to host single seater categories below contemporary Formula One, as well as prototype sportscars. The first event winner was Jiang Tengyi, who took victory in a Ford Focus during the first round of the China Touring Car Championship.
The Superleague Formula was the first major single seater series to visit in October 2010, with Ben Hanley taking the first race and Frédéric Vervisch the second. The following year would see the visit of FIA GT1 World Championship, with the MarcVDS Ford GT team securing a double victory.
Since then, international motorsport has ventured elsewhere in China, but Ordos continues with national and regional races, supplemented by driver training and manufacturer test days and new product launches. Whether it flourishes or suffers a similar fate to the high rises and empty boulevards of Ordos City remains to be seen.
- Ordos International Circuit, Kang Bashi, Ordos, China
- +86 1 874 7766 302
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