Address: Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, Dep. De Marapa, Santiago del Estero, Argentina
PH: +54 385 4218606
Circuit type: Permanent road course
The Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo is a road course located just outside the city of the same name, in the province of Santiago del Estero. It nestles alongside the banks of the artificial Río Hondo lake.
The circuit originally opened in 2008, having been built by the provincial government at a cost of 144 million pesos. The traditional Turismo Carretera series drew a crowd of over 65,000 spectators for the inaugural meeting on May 11, 2008, nearly a quarter of a century after the series had last visited the area on a temporary road course. The TC2000 touring car series and local Formula Renault have also competed at the circuit, which was among the longest in Argentina, with a main straight of 1350 metres. Varients with a chicane halfway along the main straight and a short circuit bypassing the second half of the circuit were also utilised.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, the circuit underwent a substantial rebuild in a bid to improve facilities and attract international motorsport. Italian circuit design specialist Jarno Zaffelli was brought in to bring the circuit up to FIM Grade A standards. Using his Dromo company's sophisticated computer simulation software, the new course was designed with safe run-of areas for motorcycle racing, and an entirely new track surface laid. Layout changes include a new infield loop, creating a fast 180 degree first turn which slows the eventual entry onto the long straight. The curving middle sector is broken up with the addition of a longer straight, to create a new overtaking spot. The final corner was also tightened slightly and a revised pit lane entry installed.
Pit facilitites are modern and of a high standard, with a large control tower standing over the pit lane entry. An unusual feature is the presence at the far end of the pit lane of a new motor racing museum, telling the story of the area and wider country's rich motorsport heritage.
The redesign met its objectives, with the FIM including the circuit on the MotoGP calendar for 2013. However, a row broke out between Spanish oil firm Repsol and the Spanish and Argentine governments, following the latter's forced expropriation of 51% or Repsol's shares in the YPF oil firm. A directive from the Spanish government warned against riders or teams sponsored by Repsol making the trip, forcing te race to be withdrawn from the 2013 calendar. Although the directive was later withdrawn, the timing meant it was too late to be reinstated. Instead, MotoGP organised a mid-season test for a handful of riders, at which it announced the circuit would host the Argentine GP from 2014-2016.
While the circuit's redesign had been prompted by a desire for top class motorcycle racing, the four-wheeled world also took notice. The FIA certified the track to Grade 2 standards, allowing all categories below F1 to compete. The WTCC duly arrived in 2013 for the first time, with the local crowd delighted to witness a win for home hero José María López in race two.
The circuit is located in the eastern outskirts of Termas de Río Hondo, in the province of Santiago del Estero, Argentina. The nearest airports are Las Termas Airport, at Río Hondo itself (though this has only limited flights per week) and Vicecomodoro Ángel de la Paz Aragonés Airport at Santiago Del Estero, approximately one hour's drive south from the circuit on Route 9.
Access is via Route 9 and then onto Avenue Buenos Aires towards the lake and hotel marina. Parking is available at the circuit for around 25,000 vehicles.