KOBLENZ, Germany, March 11 (Reuters) - Germany’s Nuerburgring has been sold to motor sport industry supplier Capricorn Group for more than 100 million euros ($139m), ending a months-long search to find new owners for the world’s longest racetrack, which became insolvent in 2012.
Capricorn’s offer beat out a rival bid from buyout firm H.I.G Capital, the administrator for Nuerburgring, GmbH, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“It was a close decision,” administrator Jens Lieser said, adding that the deal included a pledge to invest around 25 million euros to expand the facilities around the Nuerburgring.
The assets acquired by Capricorn include an amusement park and two racetracks: a modern 5.1-kilometer Formula One circuit and the Nordschleife, a treacherous 20.8-kilometer track first built in 1927, which is now used by the auto industry to hone vehicle dynamics for passenger cars.
Germany-based Capricorn, which supplies high-end crankshafts, cylinder liners, pistons, connecting rods and fibre-reinforced composite materials to the motor sports industry, wants to develop the Nuerburging as a technology centre.
Previous efforts to build out the Nuerburgring into a resort for car fanatics faltered after the company became insolvent, loaded with debt equivalent to around 50 years’ worth of annual profit.
Today, the old track’s 73 bends, sharp crests and off-camber surfaces are used by car manufacturers to fine tune suspension and chassis settings.
South Korean budget brand Hyundai spent nearly 7 million euros building a new trackside test centre, one of five carmakers to do so, in the hope of narrowing a perceived gap with European rivals in ride and handling.
German carmakers in particular have long had an affinity with the track. Daimler traces its “Silver Arrow” heritage back to the 1934 Eifel Race around the Nordschleife, or its northern loop, which it won after the Mercedes team famously scraped the car’s white paintwork off the metal body to save weight.
A graphic of the track: link.reuters.com/hez93v
($1 = 0.7212 euros)
Writing by Edward Taylor, editing by Stephen Wood