This year’s British Superbike meeting at Knockhill will look a little different as part of a historic year for the Fife circuit. As part of Knockhill’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the British Superbike Championship will use the track’s counter-clockwise configuration, the first time any racing has taken place on this layout since 1994.
Racing regularly stopped on the anti-clockwise layout in the early 1990s but following £100,000 of improvements, the MSA and SACU gave the go-ahead in March 2012. Over 50 motorcycle and track days have followed and with all the experience gained, steps were then taken to set about bringing British Superbike racing to the layout.
BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs has talked through the timeline of events and also outlined the changes that are still to be made for safety reasons.
“Since the circuit restarted events in the counter clockwise direction we’ve been curious to learn how they’ve been received and in talking with Niall Mackenzie, Stuart Easton and Dennis Hobbs, amongst others, who have had firsthand experience they were very enthusiastic and positive as to how it was to ride, in fact there are a number of factors which have shown this configuration to be better for competitors and spectators and viewers, with some of the well-known features of the circuit much enhanced.
“For BSB to make the transition the circuit needed to have a number of inspections by the respective regulatory bodies, MCRCB for British Championship level motorcycle racing and the MSA for car racing. MCRCB made two detailed inspections. I participated representing MSVR as the promoter and organiser and invited multiple British Champions Niall Mackenzie and Stuart Easton for their invaluable input. We made a number of determinations specifically taking into account the higher performance level of BSB and some of the characteristics and procedures of BSB events. The co-operation and commitment of the circuit management was excellent and the following scope of works is now underway.
1) Modification of the pit exit – lengthened and widened acceleration lane.
2) Re-profile of the apex of the Hairpin to increase track width.
3) Increased safety zone in the head-on position at the Hairpin.
Combination of points 2 & 3 extends the safety area and deceleration zone.
4) Complete removal of the existing tyre wall and bank at Hislops.
5) Extension of the gravel bed in the head-on position at the Chicane.
6) Removal of the combination kerb on the right hand apex of the Chicane.
7) Extension and modification of the pitlane entrance.
8) Extra protection/barrier defence at the pit entry.
9) Deployment of approximately 200 metres of additional Recticel RR (FIM) Type A soft barrier.
10) Re-siting of flag marshal and track marshals positions as appropriate.”
Once those alterations are made, the MCRCB will look into granting a track licence for this particular configuration, opening the door for a test on May 8-9. The BSB meeting is scheduled for June 27-29 and Knockhill Chief Executive Derek Butcher expects racing to be improved by the alternative layout.
“We invested in giving Scotland, and Britain, another circuit over the winter of 2011/12 and since then, the “new” circuit has provided such a different challenge, and for many, they prefer competing on it! Once a rider has done 40 – 50 laps to get into a rhythm, we are convinced that all the BSB riders and those in the support classes, and not least the thousands of spectators, will love the new challenges of this new layout. It will be fascinating to hear the feedback from the riders in May after they have had a few sessions to get familiar with Britain’s newest track”.