It’s only been a few hours since the government announced a new professional motorsport centre for Ħal Far and plans have already been announced for the track to host its first international event.
Malta Motorsport Federation president Duncan Micallef confirmed at a press conference this evening that if the racetrack is complete by November 2022, the island will host the FIA European Drag Racing Championship in April 2023.
“It will be a huge honour for the country,” Micallef, himself a former European drag racing champion, said.
And although the plans are not set in stone yet, statements by Cabinet members tonight indicate that they are very much within reach.
The government submitted an application to the Planning Authority today, and both Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Clifton Grima and Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Alex Muscat confirmed the project should only take a few months to complete.
“I was pleased to hear Duncan Micallef’s announcement that there is already interest in attracting European championships to Malta,” he said. “This will expose our sportspeople to global realities and make the sport sustainable. We’ve been investing in motorsports year on year but now the time has come for a quality leap.”
The project will see a dedicated circuit built for racers, and upgrade the existing drag racing and karting tracks to the point that they can be certified by the FIA, the global motorsport body.
Indeed, FIA president Jean Todt delivered a video message tonight, hailing the project and stating that racers can rely on the support of the world governing body of motorsport.
Grima said the project will not take up any agricultural or ODZ land and will include sound barriers for the sake of nearby residents.
It is expected to cost around €20 million, with money coming out of the sovereign wealth fund which manages the proceeds of Maltese citizenship purchases.
“We won’t be asking the Finance Ministry for a single penny, which means the project will not burden taxpayers in the slightest,” Alex Muscat said.
Both Muscat and Grima dismissed criticism that the government is announcing a pie in the sky project to seduce voters ahead of the upcoming election.
“We know some of you started wondering whether we will deliver our electoral promise, but rest assured that this government always does what it promises,” Muscat said.
“We have the money, we have the land, and in a few months’ time, this track will be up and running. We took time to carry out the necessary studies but this means we aren’t announcing a pie in the sky but a concrete project, all thanks to the men and women who worked so much for us to get here.”
Moreover, he said he considers the €20 million expenditure as an investment, citing studies showing the project could generate way more than that amount over time, as well as create over 200 full-time jobs.
Cover photo: Left: Duncan Micallef
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