Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paul Ricard for Sale

Bernie Ecclestone is rumoured to have put his Paul Ricard High TechTest Track at Le Castellet, near Toulon, up for sale. Ecclestone hasowned the track since 1999, through a company called Excelis, which isrun by Philippe Gurdjian. Since then the circuit has been redevelopedinto one of the most advanced facilities in the world. The company hasalso upgraded the Le Castellet Aerodrome to take executive jets andthe Hotel du Castellet has been turned into a top-quality hotel andconference centre.The investment involved to achieve all this has been considerable andit seems that Ecclestone now wants to cash in, presumably hoping thata car manufacturer or a promotional company will buy the facility andmake a profit using it for testing, presentations and launches.There have often been rumours that the track might one day be able tohost the French GP once again but the poor road access and theproximity to the Mediterranean beaches, coupled with a lack ofsufficient hotels means this is unlikely. There are also no spectatorfacilities left.The facility boasts a top level karting facility and a skid pan, inaddition to one of the most advanced medical facilities to be found atany racing circuit.Paul Ricard hosted a total of 14 Grands Prix between 1971 and 1990when the race moved away to Magny-Cours.

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