Snetterton circuit is finally set to undergo major redevelopment ahead of the 2011 season, having been the subject of revamp plans for several years.
Owner MotorSport Vision's stated objective is to transform the humble club circuit, and favoured testing venue, into the best facility in the UK through a combination of driver exhilaration, spectator entertainment and safety. A new three-mile circuit is being created, to be called Snetterton 300, which incorporates a completely new infield section of approximately a mile, integrated with a revised version of the original airfield circuit. Snetterton 300 will become the newest circuit in the UK and the second longest in the country, and has been designed as an international circuit with the target of achieving an FIA Grade 2 licence, which would allow it to play host to any event except F1.
For MSV chief executive Jonathan Palmer, the project has been one of great personal interest.
“With Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Cadwell Park, we have three outstanding circuits with immense driver/rider appeal," he explained, "Snetterton has its own character and great features of long straights and superb high-speed corners but, overall, it has lagged behind the other MSV circuits in terms of driver/rider appeal and spectator entertainment. Now that will all change and many will regard Snetterton as being the best circuit in the country for these crucial elements.
“Circuit layout is something I am passionate about, and I have enjoyed designing the new Snetterton circuits. It was important to combine the best features of old Snetterton with the elimination of its weaknesses and the addition of a major new section to expand it and make it a real competitors' and spectators' favourite. I wanted every corner to either be a really exciting driver/rider challenge, or produce a good overtaking opportunity.”
Snetterton 300 is expected to be used for not only the major British Superbike and British Touring Car events, but also many national and club events. The shorter Snetterton 200 is the closest layout to the original circuit, but has evolved to provide much better overtaking opportunities with the new turns at turn two and turn 13. The layout is expected to be used for some club race events and, on such occasions, it will be possible to use the Snetterton 100 circuit simultaneously for trackday type activities, as well as enabling spectators to take their cars and bikes onto the track on a pay per lap basis. Snetterton 100 will also be used for race school and testing activities.
The new track width will be 10m, an increase from the 9m of most of the existing track, and similar to many F1 tracks. As part of the redevelopment, all of the remaining original circuit will also be resurfaced. Furthermore, there will be an increased track width of 12m at turns two and 13 to further facilitate overtaking.
“Turn one is the existing super fast Riches, one of the best corners on any track, and this remains unchanged," Palmer said, reviewing the new Snetterton 300 layout, "Turn two is very different from the old Sear – a corner that produced little overtaking, was not particularly challenging and inevitably featured cars running onto scruffy exit concrete beyond the track. This is replaced with a tight hairpin modelled on one of the best overtaking points on F1 circuits – the Montreal hairpin. Cars and bikes can often close through Riches, and this will create a superb overtaking opportunity.
"Turn three is designed to be an exhilarating driver/rider challenge and features the exact radius of Monza's Parabolica - a fantastic sweeping corner, [and] the straight from turn three to turn four runs right past what will be a new extensive garden terrace area at the back of Tyrrells restaurant so, just like at Le Mans, you can enjoy a meal or drink right beside cars and bikes speeding by.
"Turn four is the second big overtaking opportunity. Faster competitors should be able to close through turn three and then outbrake into four, which will have a big run off area straight ahead and feature wider track width, to help encourage lunges! Turn five is a fast curve designed to require just a dab on the brakes or a lift, enabling faster competitors to close in preparation for turn six, which is a tight right-hander providing the third overtaking opportunity, modelled on Rivazza from Imola.