Romania’s latest permanent circuit and the central Romanian region’s first, the Transilvania Motor Ring has been a long time in the planning. First announced in 2006, construction began in 2011 and was finally complete in 2018 for the circuit’s inauguration in November, with a full calendar of events planned for the following year.
Delays and disputes during the construction phase lay at the heart of the long wait to get up and running, which has also had a knock on effect on the track's ability to host anything above tracks days and local racing events.
Further applications for European funding are planned to ensure that the circuit can be fully homologated to international standards, opening the door for wider competition to take place.
Plans for what became the Transilvania Motor Ring were first announced in 2006. Under the leadership of Emőke Lokodi, the regional council of Mureş officially started working on the racetrack project, hoping to build a safe facility which would encourage the development of motorsport as well as provide a safer place for amateur riders to enjoy their motorbikes.
The track was built using public and EU funds, totalling more than 12.6 million euros. The 34-hectare plot of land had previously been used by the Romanian defence ministry and was acquired by the local council with the aim of providing a boost to local tourism through the development of motor racing facilities. Overall, the project was modelled as a smaller-scale version of the Hungaroring.
EU funding was applied for in 2008 and finally secured in 2010, so by August of the following year, contracts were signed with a consortium of Italian firms to build the new circuit. The site was handed over in September 2011 for construction to begin, with a projected finish date of September 2013.
Troubled construction delays opening
Difficult ground conditions meant that only 62% of the work was finished by the due completion date and an extension was secured to June the following year. This too came and went with only minimal further progress and the council finally lost patience and terminated the contract. However, the builders refused to hand over the site and continued work until October, when legal proceedings begin.
Fast forward to early 2016 and the courts ordered the evacuation of the site and in February it was handed back to the council, which took the decision to plough a further 4.5 million euros into the project to get it completed. Construction work was in fact finished by December 2017 but the circuit’s opening was then delayed by a landslide on adjoining land, which caused the council to commission a survey to establish the causes. The report finally gave the all clear to the circuit but the inauguration was put back by nearly a year.
After this troubled birth, the circuit was finally ready for the public to witness a special event in November 2018, when a range of local racing categories provided demonstration runs, ahead of the track’s formal homologation by the Romanian racing authorities.
The finished circuit measures 2.304 miles (3.708 km) and is largely flat, with modern amenities including a race building featuring 11 double garages, offices for race officials and teams, a medical centre, media facilities and a restaurant.
Upgrades needed but circuit finally operational
The circuit has yet to receive international homologation for motorcycle racing, as the delays in construction meant that the standards the track was designed to had been tightened further across the intervening decade.
“The protective barriers were built according to the safety standards applicable more than 10 years ago," explains circuit director Thomas Moldovan. "Meanwhile, they have been modified, so we have to bring our racetrack up-to-date to the latest safety standards to receive approval on the motorcycle competition side."
The circuit is hoping that a further application for EU funding, worth 3 million euros, will allow the completion of this work, while the remainder will be used by the council to create an enduro-cross track or dirt park in Csittszentivány/Sântioana de Mureș, where the council has a generous 24 hectares of land at their disposal.
After the upgrade, Transylvania Motor Ring aims to host at least six major competitions each year – three car and three motorcycle – which will represent a huge step forward.
In the meantime, competition running has finally begun on four wheels, with the circuit included on the schedule of the Romanian Endurance Season from 2021 onwards.