The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and it’s band of support championship’s return to action this weekend at Snetterton after a five-week summer break. Ahead of the meeting, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup championship contender David Pittard is giving us the lowdown on the Norfolk circuit:
Snetterton originally started off life as an RAF airfield, known as RAF Snetterton Heath, before it was then designated for use by the United States Army Air Force. The airfield was opened in May 1943 and closed down in November 1948.
The race track was first used by Formula One outfit Team Lotus and Le Mans’ competitors Norfolk Racing Co to test their cars. The initial layout in the 1960’s saw the circuit run at 2.7 miles in length, with the old “Norwich Straight” taking the circuit from Sear corner through the area currently used by the Snetterton Sunday market, before a hairpin sent the track back to the Esses with the “Home Straight”, which is now the main access road for the circuit.
Russell bend (named after Jim Russell who ran a driver’s school at the circuit) was added in the late 1960’s to try to improve safety, but later had to be altered to its present configuration after a number of accidents. Since those changes, the circuit remained largely the same until a huge layout change in 2010, led by MSV, saw the current 300 configuration born.
Snetterton is one of my favourite circuits in the UK. Its quiet technical with a lot of tight corners. I relate it to a karting track, so I think that’s where my fondness comes from!
This classic race at Snetterton shows the old circuit as it’s best as old rivals Matt Neal and Jason Plato battle it out, and is a clip that has appeared many times on my Youtube:
A very fast and daunting corner! A short brake and down a gear and your straight back on the throttle keeping the minimum corner speed up! It can become busy at the first corner as everyone jockeys for position! A great place to watch since the development of the circuit as the banks create multiple viewing of parts of the circuit! Hard to pass here but it can be done if you are brave on the brakes!
A tight hairpin with a large braking zone. Another place for an overtake. Important to get the car stopped late, turned, to get as straight exit as possible to get the power down! Easy to be forced out onto the dirt if you’re side by side with someone through the apex which will cost you time and more places!
A fast left hander with a small braking zone. Important to keep the minimum corner speed up like Riches to get a good run into Agostini. Not the best passing in place as the braking area is so small but can be seen well from the bank over looking Riches too.
The 2nd tight hairpin on the circuit. A very slightly curved braking zone can upset the car. A natural late apex means a late lunge can be made if you’re committed! Important to get a good exit and good traction out of here. Can be squeezed out if wide.
A good corner. Another fast left hander with a big bump on the exit which can upset the car. People drop a lot of wheels off the exit kerb dragging a lot of dirt onto the circuit into Oggies which can catch you out!
A sort of double left. A lunge is possible, but watch out for that dirt on the inside. With the exit tightening can be difficult to put the power down and it’s hard on the tyres!
A fast, fun corner! A small break before throwing the car in, using all the inside kerb and as much as you can get away with on the exit to get a mega exit onto the back straight. Probably the most important corner on the circuit!
A Snetterton classic. Breaking as you turn in under the bridge, slowly coming down the gears keeping the back in check and staying to the left to set you up for the right. You have to be brave to pass here! Getting traction out of the right is important.
Another Snetterton classic. The track drops away on turn in, the car bottoms out on apex and rises on exit allowing for a rapid exit! A really fun corner that you requires you to hold your breath all the way through!
Mixed opinions from drivers at the redeveloped Coram and the majority aren’t fans. A very long fast right hander that you can really send the car in fast, however you then have to balance the car for a long time through the corner keeping it tight and then a tricky slow braking zone to slow the car down. No real opportunity to pass here unless it’s a lunge!
Murrays isn’t the most exhilarating corner in the world. A short sharp left which takes you onto the start finish straight. Important to get a good exit as it leads onto another long straight and passing opportunity into Riches!
See this great onboard from KX Akademy driver Sam Tordoff in his KX Momentum Racing MG6:
I love Snetterton! I have always gone really well here, including the largest win in history in the Sports2000 championship of 38 seconds in a 20min race! A year later I was on pole by two seconds in the Strata21 Porsche in Britcar, and last year I took two wins and led the third race before being taken out! So my hopes are high to set the pace quickly! It’s been a long season break so I’m buzzing to get back out in the race seat!
*All images: Jakob Ebrey Photography*