Cremona Circuit has established itself as Lombardy’s second world class facility (after Monza) for motorbike racing in just over a decade of operation.
From a bustling testing venue and karting circuit, it has expanded to host two and four-wheeled racing. The effective closure of the Franciacorta facility to two wheels following its Porsche-takeover has seen Cremona’s circuit stock rise, firstly with national racing and the SuperMoto events.
In 2024, the circuit steps even further into the limelight when it hosts the World Superbikes for the first time, as part of a five-year deal. The track is being renovated and extended ahead of the arrive of the top superbike classes.
The idea for a circuit at Cremona, deep in southern Lombardy and close to the border with Emilia-Romagna, lies with two brothers, Marzio and Alessandro Canevarolo. The pair began pursuing the project I the early 2000s, securing investors and beginning a long and bureaucratic process of approval. The first permits were applied for in 2003, but it was not until 2011 that permissions were finally secured and ground works could begin.
By June of the following year, the circuit was largely complete. Named at that time after the municipality in which is located, the Autodromo di San Martino del Lago was a 3.450km in length, dominated by a kinked back straight and a featuring variety of medium and slow-speed corners. A separate karting track completed the facilities.
Very quickly the track became popular with hot-lappers and local motor clubs, even before its official inauguration on July 7, 2012. Thanks to a simple pricing structure and marketing through social media, the circuit found itself being booked out most days between April and October.
In 2014, a small modification was made the circuit, with two new bypass loops added along the back straight, enabling the course to be split into two separate configurations which could operate independently. Measuring 1.542 km and 1.834 km respectively, these never particularly caught on and so were rarely in use.
Exactly two years after it inauguration, the track organised its first international event, when the Supermoto World Championship arrived. A gravel section was added on the infield next to the start/finish straight, creating an extra loop between the exits of Turn 1 and Turn 2. Thomas Chareyre took the first race, before being beaten in race two by Mauro Hermunen, although the Frenchman took the overall weekend win.
Later in the year, the major teams returned for the prestigious Supermoto of Nations. Chareyre was among the winning French side, beating the Italian home side comprising Ivan Lazzarini, Christian Ravaglia and Teo Monticelli.
Change of management and name
The end of the 2015 season was marked with significant drama, when the sudden closure of the facility was announced with the management company evicted from the site by the courts over a failure to pay some €1.5 million debts. The hiatus lasted for several months until a new management company was formed by the facility’s owners, brothers Roberto and Manuel Mazzucato. They placed Alessandro Canevarolo in charge as CEO of the new venture.
As if to underline a break with the past, the owners elected to change the name of the track to Cremona Circuit, although it was also dedicated from the start of 2016 in memory of local motorcycle ace Angelo Bergamonti. The six-time Italian champion was considered in the 1960s as one of Giacomo Agostini's main rivals in 350cc and 500cc events but tragically lost his life on April 4, 1971 when he crashed at the Riccione road circuit during a rain-hit race.
Under the new management company, Cremona Circuit thrived and, despite the failure of Supermoto to return, the track continued to build up a healthy user base. The purchase of the Autodromo di Franciacorta by Porsche and its subsequent decision to turn in into an Experience Centre only helped to boost Cremona’s popularity.
By 2021, plans had been laid for an overhaul of the track layout, in order to bring it up to national racing standards. It marked the beginning of an ambitious project to vault Cremona back onto the world stage. Around 90 percent of the course was revised, with an extended pit straight leading into a new complex replacing the Curve del Lago starting the lap. The straight leading to the Parabolica was re-aligned and the final complex of turns was also modified, to create bigger run off areas. In addition, a new pit building featuring a small integrated grandstand was also constructed amid a much-enlarged paddock area, while the kart course was completely redesigned to latest CIK standards. The total cost of the work was around €4 million.
The changes were well received and the track soon began attracting sanctioned racing events for the first time. First to arrive in 2022 was the Trofei MotoEstate, a popular series which has been running since 1986, followed later in the year by the bigger bikes of the Coppa Italia Velocità. The revised course has also become popular with Italian racers and Superbike teams for testing, with Superbike ace Axel Bassani, Supersport rider Federico Caricasulo or the Puccetti Kawasaki regularly found lapping the Cremona track.
World Superbikes set to arrive
With Cremona now now established on the national racing scene, the Mazzucato brothers began to dream bigger, seeking to bring back world-class events to the track. Conversations began with Dorna in 2022 and soon progressed to the point where Cremona was considered a firm candidate for the World Superbike calendar. The plan had been to gradually build up the facilities so that by around 2026 or 2027, the track would be ready for a world event. However, problems following the Covid-19 pandemic with other race contracts and a decision by Dorna to pivot towards a largely European schedule for 2024 meant Cremona’s moment in the sun has come earlier.
The track is set to undergo further changes in order to meet FIM Grade B standards, with a particular focus on changes to the last three corners of the lap to make them faster, incorporating a slight extension to the pit straight. Elsewhere, the track will see some areas resurfaced to a higher standard, while there will be some changes to gravel traps.
Further grandstands will be constructed at Turns 1 and 2, and another set at turns 4 to 6. A new grandstand will also be placed at the exit of turn 13. The total cost of the changes is around €9 million but the Mazzucatos are not phased: “It's a challenge but we have the right people and the management formula is correct,” explains Roberto. “Cremona is a provincial racetrack and wants to remain so by attitude: the challenge does not scare us but commits us. We have a clear focus, and Dorna is proving to be a great partner in this. We have the skills to carry out this project, in fact we have signed a 5-year contract, and every year we will improve".