The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, of which Pirelli is the Main Event Sponsor, is heading to Europe for the third round of 2016: for the sixth year in a row, the MotorLand Aragón track, designed by Hermann Tilke and opened in September 2009, will host the high-octane, highly-compelling modified bike challenge.
Motorland is a sporting complex near Alcañiz, a town of 16,000 inhabitants about 100km from Saragozza. Of breathtaking natural beauty, the area bears the marks of time, settled by a variety of cultures over the centuries. While appearing stark and rough at first glance, the landscapes around the town offer untold opportunities to discover an area - still relatively off the beaten tourist track compared with other more important towns in the Iberian peninsula - concealing enormous charm and deep-rooted traditions. An area very much worth touring by bike.
Just minutes from the main entrance to the Motorland circuit is the beautiful La Estanca reserve, a prestigious natural heritage site. Formed from a branch of the Rio Guadalope, La Estanca is home to a truly unique range of wildlife (including the famous ornithological observatory) and botanical species. Adjacent to La Estanca is Las Saladas, a salt marsh that shapes the face of the surrounding area. Not to be missed is the famous Monumento al Tambor, designed by the well-known artist José Gonzalo Vives (1929-2010) and symbol of long-standing local tradition. The sculpture depicts a drummer, a characteristic figure in Aragonese culture, made with marked geometrical characters and standing on a base showing the town's principal monuments. There could be no better tribute to the area!
Nestling in the hills is the Val del Charco complex, an archaeological site of enormous importance for the signs of human life discovered there in 1913 and made a UNESCO heritage site in 1998: the 150 cave drawings in this part of Eastern Spain - showing mainly hunting activities and scenes of everyday life - are said to have originated as a sacred place used for religious rituals.
A visit to the area around Motorland must also take in the artistic beauty of Alcañiz, founded in 1157 by Ramon Berenguer on the site of the ancient Arab settlement of Alcanit.
The town's growth in the Early Middle Ages took place in parallel with wider territorial expansion under the protection of Orden de Calatrava, a religious and military order: symbols of the town's power and prestige still standing today are the Gothic Tower and the Calatravos Castle, which was partially destroyed in the 18th century.
Converted to ciudad in 1652 under Phillip IV, Alcañiz found itself at the head of a geographical area heavily influenced by its folklore and tradition: there are many local craft products, in particular ceramic art, oil, food and wine.
In the 19th century, the Aragon region, especially the area in which MotorLand is located, contributed significantly to the development of textile industries which eventually led to the birth of an industrial park and the need to build a railway connecting the centre of Alcañiz to Saragozza and Terragona. This cultural legacy must also be associated with the love of motorsports, a defining feature of the area: the building of MotorLand was the culmination of a dream that had begun half a century earlier when Joaquín Ripollés held the first Alcañiz Grand Prix on the town's track. The need for higher safety standards is behind the desire, in the 1990s, to build an integrated and multifunctional motorsports complex which resulted in the wonderful circuit which now sits on the red hills of Aragon.