Not only for the fact it is the first round of the toughest and most historical championship in the world, but also for the fact that it’s a Kiwi who designed the track.
Everyone loves Villa La Angostura, from the magnificent scenery, the holiday vibe and of course one of the most beautiful motocross circuits in the world.
New Zealander Greg Atkins, the former Tokoroa man who built the circuit, has also had something of a love affair with not only the area, but also with the people who put together the race. It’s fair to say that the earth really does move for Atkins.
“I have never seen a place like it,” Atkins said of the Patagonia venue. “It is a bit like some parts of New Zealand or Switzerland, but it’s also very different, also the atmosphere here.
“You have one of the most beautiful forests in the world. It’s one of the best organizations I have ever worked with, and if you saw how the place was before we built the track, you can notice a big difference.
“The first time I flew here, a lot of people said it’s so far away and they compared it to Mexico or whatever. When I got off the plane, I was so relieved, it’s just beautiful here.”
One of the challenges for the MXGP and MX2 competitors will be that strange type of surface that is known as black sand, a volcanic soil typical from the area that creates a lot of tricks for the riders to prepare themselves for.
“What I will say is, it is volcanic soil, and what they must remember it isn’t a proper sand. Volcanic soil is softer, you can move around a lot on it, and it is also really slippery.
“I can take my bobcat and bury the bucket more than a meter deep. It does get very rough and slippery and the way the volcanic soil moves, I think that is why the riders think it’s hard underneath. I would say that, if you come into the corner instead of biting into it, you slide along the top sometimes. We have been digging it up anyway, repairing it and, in most places, it’s a metre deep, but we also did that last year.”
As for the working conditions, Atkins has not only made good friends in Argentina, but the working conditions are second to none when it comes to having the correct tools to make a circuit, that was once, just an empty area alongside that huge lake.
“It is at the top of the sport for Grand Prix. They want to do a good job, they put a big effort in, they want to do it perfectly, and they plan well ahead.
“I mean, I have contact with these people right throughout the year, and we also sit down after the event and evaluate what was good and what wasn’t. Not many organizers do that.”
Now, with less than two months to wait, you just know when we all arrive on March 10, we will be greeted by friendly, happy locals that together with the hard-working New Zealander, will be putting the final touches to a very impressive motocross facility.
It’s interesting to note that Atkins was himself an extremely accomplished motocross racer himself back in the day and he finished fifth in the 250cc class in the New Zealand Motocross Championships in 1986.
The 250cc title that year was won by Australian Craig Dack, with fellow Aussie Vaughan Style finishing runner-up. Third that year was New Plymouth’s David Furze, with American Frankie Brundage finishing in fourth spot, followed by Atkins.
Words by Geoff Meyer, with additional reporting by Andy McGechan
© Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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