The Circuito de Velocidade Vasco Sameiro at Braga is Portugal's third permanent motor racing facility and home to the Clube Automóvel do Minho (CAM). The club is one of the most active in Portugal, for many years as the organiser of the Falperra hill climb, which is the most popular in the country boasting spectator counts of over 200,000. Its expertise also includes rally and karting events and it was the desire to expand the latter which eventually gave rise to the circuit.
Rather overlooked in recent years with the rise of the circuit at Portimão and the continued interest in Estoril, it seems likely that Braga will continue to be regarded as a national and club racing venue only.
In the early 1990s, construction began on a new international-standard karting facility, with the club eyeing the possibility of joining the World Karting Championships. Almost as soon as construction had started, an opportunity arose which saw the plans expand to include a full motor racing track alongside the karting facility. The new track (which at the time would have been only the second such course in the country) would wind around the perimeter of Braga's municipal airport.
Construction of the 450 million escudo scheme was complete by the summer of 2003 and the track was named in honour of the great Portuguese driver, Vasco Sameiro. An official opening ceremony took place on July 8 and the first race took place on August 26/27. The circuit immediately became a staple fixture on Portugal's various national championships, though it failed to garner any significant international attention.
Upgrades were made to the karting facility at the end of 2001 and there were also several changes to the main course. The Turn 1 section was tightened considerably into a right-left chicane and the following section of track converted into a long looping left hander. Meanwhile, the back chicane was reversed to allow greater room for run off (though the original chicane remained in place).
Further alterations to the chicane area came in 2008, though these simply added greater amounts of run-off at exit. This allowed the original version of the chicane to be brought back into use, though only for motorcycle competition.
The upgrades meant the circuit could be homologated to FIA Grade 3, paving the way for it to host more significant events. The investment paid off when, in 2009, the circuit hosted the FIA European Touring Car Cup, a one-off race won by the Honda Accord of James Thompson, and in 2010 as the opening leg of a three-round series. James Thompson won again in the Accord in the first race, while local hero César Campaniço took the second in a BMW.
Thereafter the ETCC moved on and Braga has reverted to hosting national championships only, with the circuit's international homologation lapsing in subsequent years.
- Rua do Kartódromo, 4700-521 Palmeira, Portugal
- +351 253 300450/7
- Official website
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