This summer, for the very first time, CREVENTIC is set to host an endurance event on a street circuit at the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real in Portugal.
Having recently finalized details with Vila Real circuit management, CREVENTIC can now confirm that a split six-hour endurance race will be held at the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real across the 14-15-16 July weekend, one week on from the inaugural Hankook 12H ESTORIL on 7-8 July. The first-ever 6H VILA REAL will be run as a non-championship round with a view to Vila Real’s possible inclusion as a championship-round of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook in the seasons to come.
The Circuito Internacional de Vila Real would become the 25th different circuit to host the Dutch promoter since the inaugural 24H SERIES event at the Dubai Autodrome in 2006.
Helen Roukens, CREVENTIC team relations: “This is a very big moment for us. We are always looking for ways to expand our horizons for our competitors and our fans, as we’ve proven at many of the most celebrated racing venues around the world. So to be given the chance to host an endurance event at one of Portugal’s most charismatic street circuits is a great opportunity for CREVENTIC and our teams, many of whom we are confident will be excited to make this step with us. We’d like to thank the management team at the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real for their help making the 6H VILA REAL a reality.”
Rui Santos, Mayor of Vila Real: “Vila Real has established itself as one of the most exciting and competitive urban circuits in the world. Despite having held car races since 1931, the last few years, with the FIA WTCC and WTCR, have put our circuit on everyone’s scope. After the sprint races with TCR cars, we think this is the time to receive GTs and remember the endurance races that took place here in the 1970s. We found in Creventic a fantastic partner and we look forward to welcoming thousands and thousands of people in July, at the biggest race event ever in Vila Real.”
The planned three-day format is scheduled to begin with 4.5 hours of private testing on Friday 14 July. 45 minutes of Qualifying – which will observe the same three, 15-minute format currently run at 12-hour 24H SERIES events – and ‘part one’ of the 6H VILA REAL are set to follow on Saturday 15 July. The first three hours of the race itself will draw to a close at sunset, and CREVENTIC’s traditional overnight intervention will be ushered in via an enormous display of fireworks.
The weekend concludes with the final three hours of the 6H VILA REAL on Sunday 16 July. Live streaming will be available across CREVENTIC’s YouTube and social media channels, including commentary from the esteemed radiolemans.com.
Scheduled one week after the 24H SERIES’ inaugural visit to the Circuito do Estoril in a bid to offer established and new competitors further racing excitement in Portugal’s blissful climes, the split, non-championship, six-hour race will be open to teams and drivers in both the GT and TCE divisions.
Circuito Internacional de Vila Real – a brief history
Touring car fans will be most familiar with Vila Real’s time on the World Touring Car Championship and, latterly, the World Touring Car Cup calendar. First held as a world-championship event in 2015, six editions of the ‘Race of Portugal’ were held around the 4.6km Portuguese street course before the WTCR’s dissolution at the end of 2022. Incredibly, and in a nod to the circuit’s technical layout, 12 different drivers were victorious in the 14 WTCC / WTCR races held during that time, with only 2019 world champion Norbert Michelisz and, fittingly, Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro winning more than once.
Prior to its WTCC / WTCR tenure, Vila Real can actually trace its heritage back to amateur Portuguese motor racing in the wine-making ‘Norte’ region in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Financial backing from local government officials meant local street racing was given an official home in 1930 on the new ‘Circuito Automóvel de Vila Real,’ albeit still run largely on public roads and through hillside towns. And while the original 7.150km course length paled in comparison to the 22.8km and 14.9km behemoths established just a few years earlier around Nürburg in Germany and Malmedy in Belgium respectively, Vila Real more than made up for that with its picturesque hillside location. And danger! Drivers were required to cross two perilously-high bridges traversing the roaring Rio Corbo river, between which was a narrow railway level-crossing.
Competitive intrigue soon spread, and with the road course having survived the onslaught of the second World War, international competitors started flocking to Vila Real from 1950 onwards. Indeed, Enzo Ferrari himself sent factory entries for the formative ‘Race of Portugal’ in 1951 (which dutifully finished 1-2-3), while Sir Stirling Moss led home a Maserati 1-2 at the event in 1958, the first edition run since modifications – including the new, tighter ‘Curva da Salsicharia’ (Sausage Curve) before the start-finish line, apparently so-named for the adjacent butchers that overlooked it – saw the circuit dip below its traditional 7km length (6.925km) for the first time. Grandstands and a permanent pitlane, complete with an Armco barrier, would follow in 1968.