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Snetterton to undergo major redevelopment

24 September 2010

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.

"Turn eight follows the turn seven curve and is a medium-fast corner leading on to the original main straight – such corners provide the best opportunity to keep close to a competitor ahead leading on to a long straight. Another great Italian corner provides inspiration, and this is essentially Monza Lesmo 1.

"Turns nine and ten are the existing Esses corners, with tidying up of the run off areas and surrounds. Popular competitor opinion was that this should remain as a unique traditional feature of Snetterton providing good overtaking opportunities. Turn eleven – the Bomb Hole – continues unchanged, its mid-corner depression always creating a challenge and now enjoying a huge new run off area outside.

"Turn twelve is the existing fast sweeping Coram, one of the country's favourites, which will in effect become a bit tighter by continuing through a larger angle and for longer. If a car was just flat before, it won't be now.

"Turn 13 replaces the old Russells chicane. For me, the worst corner on the existing track, providing little overtaking opportunity, no driver challenge and needing various degrees of messy, car damaging kerb crashing to be quick. This is replaced by one tight left-hand corner, braking for which will prove a real challenge with cars and bikes loaded up exiting Coram. Drivers and riders face a dilemma – keep left for a fast Coram exit and enter 13 tight and lose exit speed there, or compromise Coram exit speed to get to the right side to give a wide turn in to turn 13 for optimal speed down the pits straight.”

In addition to providing great excitement and challenge for the drivers, a key consideration for Snetterton 300 was to provide a circuit with the best viewing in the UK, along with Brands Hatch Indy. To achieve this, the new section is all within an infield arena that can be entirely viewed from three separate elevated viewing embankments. The central viewing bank by turn four will enable easy viewing over an incredible two miles of circuit and, equally importantly, three new major overtaking points will be within this area.

With the recent major pushing back of the Bomb Hole bank to increase the amount of run off available, Snetterton has become an even safer circuit, but all of the new sections have also been designed with big run-off areas to minimise the chances of a car or bike making contact with the tyre walls, to both maximise safety and minimise the risk of damage to vehicles.

As well as the track revisions, the asphalted areas of the Snetterton paddock will be extended to provide more hard-standing for competitors, and allow a paddock with direct access to the Snetterton 100 circuit via its own pit-lane. Power supply to existing garages will be increased and the ramps from the garages modified to enable low single-seaters better ground clearance. In the future, the existing garages will be refurbished and a new pit garage complex built to service Snetterton 100.

Phase two of the Snetterton transformation will be to develop the 30 acres of land to the east of the entrance old runway approach to build motor racing team workshops, engineering workshops, car and motor cycle retail outlets and accessory shops. The Snetterton Business Park planning permission also includes a hotel and conference centre near the entrance, with development planned to commence in 2012.

As has happened at other circuit, fans will be able to contribute to the redesign at Snetterton, having been given the opportunity to name some of the new corners. To enable this, a website has been created, at www.snettertonnames.com, where fans can leave their suggestions.


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