History will be made next weekend at the Portimao circuit in Portugal when sports car racing teams take part in the Maxi Endurance 32, in what is set to become the world’s longest circuit endurance race.
Organized by Jesús Díez Villarroel, the former Spanish GT champion has put together a unique event that has attracted interest from teams and drivers across Europe, for what could very well be known as a race for the ages.
Sportscar365 caught up with Villarroel to get his thoughts on the concept and the progress that’s been made heading into the Dec. 12-14 event.
What was the idea behind the 32-hour format? We know you tried to initially do a 48-hour race. Why make the change?
“48 hours is a great challenge and it will one day be realized, but it is rather expensive, especially for GT3 cars. Besides, teams weren’t sure about if cars were able to finish the race and, facing that unknown, had doubts.
“Finally, we decided to organize a 32-hour race, beyond the limits of traditional 24 hours races. Our goal is to organize the century’s longest race, a unique and different challenge, a real adventure where new endurance and reliability world records will be set.”
What are the advantages of having a 32-hour race compared to a more traditional 24-hour race?
“Today, current 24-hour races are real sprint events. Our proposal is a different adventure. An extra eight hours of racing in comparison with current 24-hour races, and anything can happen.
“It is to recapture the spirit of endurance racing, with plenty of suspense and adventure. Over the past 100 years was hardly surpassed that frontier of 24 hours. It means to go one step further in endurance racing for drivers, teams and cars. In this first edition we have facilitated everything and it is possible even replacing the engine.”
How many cars are you expecting?
“We are expecting between 18 and 23 cars (Click Here for entry list). Facing the unknown, many people fear it. Therefore, only the bravest ones with vision have taken up the challenge.
“At the last moment some teams have abandoned the idea of participating in the Maxi Endurance 32 because they wern’t able to complete their driver line-up. Other teams struggling to do it, they finally have reached their goal and will be on the starting grid.
“Our main goal is not the number of cars but setting five new endurance and reliability world records An advantage is that from an economic viewpoint we have balanced the performances of CN and GT3 cars.
“At a cost of about 12,000 Euros ($15,000) per driver, it is possible to win this race, taking into account a GT3 car costs around 35,000 Euros ($43,000).
“There is nothing like this race on the current motorsport scene, and you get the chance of setting a world record. It is a motivating factor.
“We are well aware that it is important to carry out this inaugural race, because even if there isn’t a huge entry list, those new world records will be set. So other teams and drivers will join us in future editions when they realize the Maxi Endurance is already a reality.”
In what ways have you worked with teams to reduce operating costs?
“To reduce costs it is possible to have up to six drivers per car, and there is a maximum number of tires for each category.
“FIA CN cars will be able to use a maximum number of 44 tires for the entire race. In case of they need additional tires they will be given a penalty lap for each extra tire. On the whole, the budget is very similar to those necessary for 24-hour races.”
Do you have a long-term plan for this event, and/or to potentially have additional endurance races?
“Our main goal is to prove this challenge can be tackled, setting new world records. Everyone is looking at us expectantly, [waiting to see] how this first edition goes. They need to realize this race has become [a reality] to join us in the future.
“The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is one of the most exciting ones in Europe. My favorite ones are Portimao, Spa-Francorchamps and Istanbul.
“The agreement was signed for a period of five years. Those taking part at the inaugural event will enter into motorsport history, as drivers ahead of their time.”