Michael Schumacher's kart track to be modernised
Michael Schumacher's famous kart track near his home of Kerpen-Manheim is to be modernised so it can host world championship events again, after being saved from demolition.
The Erftlandring, which is owned by Schumacher and where he started his career, has secured funding that will ensure its long-term future now that threats of it having to make way for a lignite mine have fallen away.
Back in 2016 there had been extreme doubts about the future of the venue, with energy company RWE having purchased parts of the surrounding area in a bid to expand lignite mining from the nearby Hambach Forest.
Despite opposition to the RWE plans, it pushed on with its plan to get rid of the site and presented a compensation offer in January 2018 that seemed to seal the kart track's fate.
However, in 2020, RWE decided against further expansion of its opencast mining in the region following protests by environmentalists in Hambach Forest. These triggered local laws to secure its preservation.
That saved the Kerpen track in the short term, but left some uncertainty as RWE still owned the land, and the vicinity remained officially a mining area.
However, it has now emerged that a lease deal has been agreed between the management of the kart track and RWE that guarantees the venue will remain.
So, with the funds that were paid originally for the sale of the land, investments can now be made in improving the track.
Gerhard Noack, president of the local kart club, told local newspaper Kölner Express: "We have sealed a lease agreement with RWE for ten years, plus an option for five more, and can now invest the money from the sale in the necessary renovation."
He added: "The access roads and the track will be newly asphalted, we will build new CI kerbs and double catch fences, so that we can organise international races like the world championships, the European championships and WSK again."
The last world championship race at Kerpen took place in 2001, when Schumacher himself took part in the event. He went up against a host of youngsters including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Loic Duval and Vitantonio Liuzzi, who went on to take the title that weekend.
As well as a revamp of the main circuit, there are plans to build a new track for electric karts.
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