The next time the FIA World Touring Car Championship fields visits Morocco, it will be at an almost unrecognisable Marrakech street circuit.
Organisers of the Moroccan city’s street races have confirmed that the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan will undergo a major transformation ahead of next year’s event, which will take place in early May as the series’ fifth round of the 2016 championship season.
The Race of Morocco has been run on a largely unchanged 4.6-kilometre temporary street circuit alongside the walls of the city’s Royal Garden. While being an unusually high-speed circuit, it has tended to produce a succession of both crash-hit and processional races since its inception.
In response, organisers have announced their plans to develop an FIA Grade 2 semi-permanent circuit created with the assistance of Hermann Tilke’s design agency, with construction beginning next month.
The track layout will see the field run in the opposite direction along the original start/finish straight before turning left into the new six-corner complex. The drivers will then rejoin the Route de l’Ourika, but instead of continuing along the original layout that ran Avenue du 7’eme Art, they will drive along a long right-hand arc in front of the Menara Palace and then turn left onto the Boulevard Mohammed.
Instead of continuing onto the the original final corner – a tight left-hand hairpin bend, the field will veer off earlier and steer through a slow left-right chicane complex making up the track’s final corners. The overall layout will see the circuit’s length reduced to three kilometres in length.
Images via FIA WTCC