Former grand prix riders Jeremy McWilliams and Steve Parrish believe that the new Silverstone MotoGP circuit will meet with the approval of the present generation of grand prix stars.
Silverstone will host the British Motorcycle Grand Prix for the first time since 1986 next season and Parrish, who raced in the 500cc British GP at the old Silverstone between 1977 and 1982, believes that the new track layout will provide a similar challenge to the high-speed circuit he raced on.
“Silverstone was always a man's circuit, one you could really get your teeth into,” said the BBC MotoGP commentator. “Corners like Stowe, Club and Woodcote are the kind you dream of riding, and looking at the new plans it looks like it's going to be very much the same as it was. I'm really excited about it.”
McWilliams, a 250GP winner who battled Valentino Rossi for victory in the 500cc British Grand Prix at Donington Park in 2000, also has fond memories of the old circuit, later slowed down for safety reasons.
“My first main meeting on a bike back in 1993 was here at Silverstone, when I finished on the podium in a Supercup race,” said the Ulsterman. “What's always been fantastic about Silverstone is the speed, through Copse [turn one] and up through the technical section of Maggots and Becketts.
“Copse is one of those turns that takes a lot of guts to get through at the speed you want to. When I first came here I was really surprised by the outright speed of the place - for me Woodcote Corner [the last corner] coming onto the start-finish straight was the be-all-and-end-all. It's fantastic that that's all going to be re-opened and used again in the future,” he added, referring to the popular removal of the fiddly final chicane, imposed on recent BSB and WSBK rounds at the circuit.
“Not that there's anything wrong with the other circuits we have in the UK, but Silverstone has something different,” McWilliams continued. “It's got that nostalgia, with names like Gardner and Sheene having won here in the early days. The grand prix was here for ten years, and now it's returning again. I know for a fact that the facilities are second-to-none, the best in the UK, and that will bring the spectators in. The facilities have been lacking at one of the tracks we've been using lately...
“As a rider we love fast, flowing circuits, and I don't think I'm alone in saying that. It's the tight and twisty, stop-start circuits that we have more trouble with. Richard [Phillips, Silverstone manager director] is very interested in what the riders want, and it's nice to see they've taken that on-board.
“It's not going to be the fastest track on the calendar, but it's going to be one of the fastest,” McWilliams stated.
The 2010 British MotoGP at Silverstone is scheduled to take place on June 6.