Kazakhstan's first major motorsports complex has been a long time in delivery, but the Sokol Circuit soon hopes to be operating fully, ready to build the country's interest in motorsport and, possibly, attract international series to the country for the first time.
With a well-established and regarded karting circuit and drag strip in place and good financial backing, the ingredients are there to help the circuit boost Kazakhstan's presence on the global motorsport scene.
One of the largest project investors in the project is Alijan Ibrahimov, one of Kazakhstan's richest businessmen through his Eurasian Resources Group. Full costs of the project are undisclosed, though there has been a concerted effort to make a world-class facility. This was reflected in the choice of track designer; with ambitions to lure series such as MotoGP and possibly even F1, Hermann Tilke's concern was hired to draw up the masterplan.
It's probably fair to say that Tilke stuck to a familiar format when designing Sokol, which bears a strong resemblance to the Bahrain International Circuit.
Construction began in 2012 and the drag strip and karting circuits the first to be completed. The outline of the main circuit soon began to be carved out in the earth and the pit building complex, which also incorporates a 44-room hotel, was also completed relatively early in the project.
Then, for reasons that aren't immediately apparent, work slowed to a crawl and by 2019, the circuit was still not complete. However, it appears that new impetus is bringing the project to a conclusion, although the coronavirus pandemic hasn't helped and the anticipated 2020 completion date came and went.
In the meantime, the kart and drag strips are busy with activity, while there are also areas for golf, paintball and a car museum on the site, as well as a camping zone for outdoor activities.