Sokol Race Track and WRX: Let's go!

The large Sokol International Race Track is ready to reward you with real super-emotions after passing the fast, running and working turns of the excellent new track. This time, it helped to better reveal the true potential of the Subaru WRX sports sedan, which was used during the track test.

There were a lot of impressions on this day - being one of the first three laps around a world-class circuit is worth a lot. And the company was stellar. Famous Italian motorcycle racers Marco Milandri and Marco Chiochi, driving a fifth-generation Subaru WRX, tasted all the delights of the new track. Among the guests was former Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. The track was able to make a great impression on them.

The star landing of Italian pilots helped to reveal the potential of both the track and the car.

Dastan Ibragimov started this project from scratch and proudly presented the race track to Italian motorcycle racing pilots. In the top photo, he and the famous Marco Milandri are preparing to hit the track.

Well, now let's go back to the basics. For a long time now, I have repeatedly asked myself the question: will there be a world-class racing track in Kazakhstan in the foreseeable future? The answer was not obvious.

The ice began to break when the creation of a large world-class racing complex was started by people who were not primarily seeking to get a quick profit, but who thought for the future and truly loved motor sports.

I was able to talk a little about the stages of development and prospects of Sokol Race Track with the initiator and one of the founders of the complex, Dastan Ibragimov, who literally suffered through this difficult, but very significant project for motorsports in Kazakhstan, and was involved in its implementation from the very beginning. However, a racing complex of such a high level is important not only for our country, but also for the entire Central Asian region, because at the moment in this location it is the only complex of such a high world level.

Dastan Ibragimov said that it was originally planned to build a race track near the Kapshagai reservoir, but the soil there was not suitable, and the area was needed very large, because in addition to a large highway-ring track, the plans immediately included a drag strip, a karting track, a hotel, and a venue for drift competitions and much more. Today the track is completely ready to host races of the highest level and the founders of the Sokol race track today really have something to be proud of.

As for its further development and operation, the plans are not only to hold high-level international competitions, but also to develop Kazakhstan racing series. Attention will also be paid to relatively inexpensive mono-series. Currently, negotiations are already underway on this topic with one of the car manufacturers.

Dastan Ibragimov especially noted that a lot of work is being done to train the younger generation of racers - recently the international academy of young pilots of the FAMS of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened on the basis of the karting track and its first graduation has already taken place. Much attention will continue to be paid to this area in the future.

In the photographs accompanying this material you can see how racing took place at the finished facilities, and in the background the main highway-ring track gradually grew. The karting track, drag strip and drift site have been operating successfully for several years and have given motorsport fans and participants many beautiful and spectacular races

A few years ago, three-time Moto GP world champion Jorge Lorenzo visited Sokol Race Track. At that time, gravel tracks could already be seen in some areas, as well as the pit lane and main grandstand under construction.

Jorge Lornso with Dastan Ibragimov. In the year of his arrival, construction was in full swing. By the way, the three-time Moto GP winner spent the 2023 season in the Porsche Super Cup .

It can be noted that initially there were no noticeable elevation changes planned on the track, and already during the construction of the track it was decided to make a change to the project and build a closed turn with two permutations, which became the real calling card of the track.

In addition to the original signature turn, it is worth noting the original S-turn and the kilometer-long straight, on which during the races in the fastest series the speed will exceed 300 km per hour.

The length of Sokol Race Track is 4495 meters. The movement is made clockwise. As for turns, there are only 13 of them - 8 left and 5 right. The track is wide - 15 meters - this should have a positive effect on overtaking. A long straight line will also help add intrigue. Last year, the final layer of asphalt was laid - experienced specialists from Germany ensured that all subtleties and technologies were observed.

The stands of the circuit can accommodate 40,000 spectators. It is worth noting that the paddock is separated from the stands and guest areas of the starting line.

There was also room in the paddock area for a comfortable hotel for pilots. It will allow drivers and team representatives to better concentrate on their work during the race weekend. In general, all conditions have been created for racing at the highest level.

The track fully complies with the latest technical requirements of the international auto and motorcycle federations - FIA and FIM. It allows you to hold even the highest level competitions. So, a stage of the Moto GP World Championship is planned to be held here in mid-June 2024, the status of which can be compared with Formula 1 in car racing. The Kazakhstan stage has already been recorded in the calendar of the most prestigious motorcycle world series.

In fact, holding competitions of such a high level is of great importance for the development of the economy of Kazakhstan. As a rule, the country is visited by many thousands of fans of motor sports, who pour tens of millions of dollars into the economy. Television broadcasts are also of great importance for the image of the state, which in the case of Moto GP are watched by several hundred thousand viewers in different parts of the world.

To better understand the track, I turned to the Kazakh pilot, international master of sports Alexander Artemyev, who has extensive experience of performing at international-level circuits, including the Hungarian Hungaroring and the Spanish Barcelona. By the way, several years ago in Hungary he climbed to the silver podium at the ETCC European Cup.

Alexander shared his opinion about the highlights of Sokol Race Track.

- I haven’t driven on the track live yet, but I studied the turns on the simulator and on boards. As a result, I noticed several important points. First of all, this is a very interesting height difference with access to a small straight line. In such turns it is very important to “open” the gas as early as possible, but the height difference and lack of visibility at the apex add spice.

The top photo shows the entrance to the first turn from the starting straight, and the bottom photo shows the longest kilometer-long straight.

I would also like to point out an interesting “esque”, the correct passage of which is of great importance, since after it comes the largest straight line. Accordingly, you need to get out of this bunch of turns by starting acceleration as early as possible. Interestingly, after the straights there is no too hard braking and you can “bring up” the speed to the next set of turns. The route is interesting! I think that many people will like it.

By the way, you can study the route and even follow it using this link .

In the top photo you can see how out of the blue they began to build a height difference and that same turn with two rearrangements. Below is the entrance to this original bend, which has become a real calling card of the new track.

Well, now let’s return to the car, which helped us experience all the delights of the track, and at the same time enjoy its own capabilities in conditions close to combat. It’s not worth saying that the Subaru WRX is the best solution for the ring. Still, this sports sedan, despite the fact that it has emerged from the shadow of the Impreza many years ago, still has quite strong rally roots. Currently, the new WRX not only feels great on the rally roads of North America, but also allows crews to dominate and win races with enviable consistency.

The rally version of the 5th generation Subaru WRX brought the “constellation” many victories in North America this year.

We recently wrote in detail about this car, which we tested , and therefore here we will focus on its sporting capabilities and habits. The main weapon that day at Sokol was the WRX, and you could try it in action with both a manual transmission and a CVT.

No one tried to set records that day, because it was not a sporting event, but a simple acquaintance with the track while driving. Nevertheless, one of the main advantages that guarantee excellent handling in corners is a low center of gravity, thanks to the boxer engine, and excellent weight distribution.

2.4-liter engine with power and torque of 245 hp. and Nm are quite enough to enjoy interacting with the car, understand its capabilities and feel the spirit of the new race track with various turns. Obviously, there is a large margin of controllability here.

The WRX has confirmed its main characteristics - acceleration in 6 seconds to hundreds with a manual transmission is quite possible, and it is quite possible to exceed two hundred on a kilometer straight. I didn’t try to reach the maximum speed of 215 kilometers per hour - the condition of the tires, previously rolled almost to zero by the Italians, prevented me from doing so. Flying into the gravel that day was not part of the plan.

As a result, the WRX helped me better feel the spirit of the new circuit, which is already listed on the Moto GP calendar as Sokol International Race Track. This means that it already has a recognized international status. I am sure that the track has a great future.