Thruxton Race Circuit have stated they will be addressing the safety of Church corner following a number of high-speed accidents at the bend during last weekend’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting.
BTCC drivers Nick Foster, Ollie Jackson and Simon Belcher, and Ginetta Junior driver Billy Monger, all had large accidents at the infamous corner, with Belcher barrel rolling into the trees are mounting the circuit’s tyre defences.
Thruxton’s Group Managing Director Bill Coombs has said in a statement that “safety is of course of paramount importance” and that “it is not desirable to have cars ending up amongst the bushes.”
He added though that “we need to be careful in this situation not to jump to any kneejerk reactions” and that “the last thing we want to do is remove the character of Thruxton.”
Following the incidents, there has been discussion across social media, forums and the like about whether changes need to be made to the run-off at Church, with calls for the introduction of a full tyre barrier, as well as a gravel trap or highly-abrasive asphalt run off.
Belcher himself, who could miss at least the next BTCC meeting at Oulton Park following the incident, told TCF that he feels a gravel trap should be introduced, adding: “It’s a 130mph corner with nothing to stop you other than grass and a small stack of tyres.”
Coombs’ statement read:
“Any accidents at a motor racing meeting are regrettable, but as a racer myself, I fully understand that it is not desirable to have cars ending up amongst the bushes. That is something we will be addressing, but by the same token, we need to be careful in this situation not to jump to any kneejerk reactions or conclusions.
“Church is a high-speed, challenging corner, and like all the classic corners, it is just this that makes it so exciting and rewarding to get right. There is a significant amount of run-off area – more than at many other circuits – and the result is that when accidents do occur, drivers are thankfully able to climb out of the car and walk away, as was the case last weekend.
“The last thing we want to do is remove the character of Thruxton, but safety is of course of paramount importance and we will be working closely in conjunction with the MSA and FIA, who are the acknowledged experts in this area in our sport, to see if we can make further improvements.”
The MSA, the governing body of the sport in the UK have also issued a statement, saying:
“The MSA’s policy has always been to operate a robust and continual risk assessment programme, an important part of which is to monitor incidents at events and to investigate these as appropriate.
“All race circuits hosting MSA authorised activities are inspected on an annual basis as part of the MSA Track Licence system. In addition to its MSA credentials, Thruxton also holds a valid FIA Track Licence which requires its own tri-annual inspection process.
“BARC (Thruxton) Ltd, as operators of the venue, and BARC, as organisers of the race meeting, are pleased to co-operate with the MSA in the course of this investigation.”