Motorcycle Track Guide: Almeria

A Spanish track perfect for escaping the British weather, learn Almeria the Mackenzie way

Like London Luton and London Stansted airports, the Almeria circuit is not exactly next door to the city itself; however a thirty minute drive into the Andalucian hills is a small price to pay when you see what a treat you have in store. The challenging Circuito de Almeria, first opened in 2001, has become a popular testing ground for MotoGP, WSB and BSB teams mainly during the off-season. Track days take place all year round although the summer months are less popular as high temperatures make riding pretty uncomfortable.

I’ve ridden nearly every sports bike from 600cc to 1200cc round here and there’s more fun to be had on a smaller bike. The long straights are great for giving an R1 the berries but an R6 will ultimately be more satisfying through the many undulations and twists that make up the bottom part of the circuit.

Sector One: Start/Finish to Turn Five

Sector One: Start/Finish to Turn Five

You’ll be clicking 4th gear just as you plunge downhill and edge over to the left side of the track before braking for turn one. It’s white line time so get as close as you can and try for a late entry as this will give you a cleaner run out. This is a super-smooth corner and the uphill exit quickly comes into view.Once at the apex start to squeeze the throttle and use the entire track on your way out.

Once upright you can accelerate hard up to the crest rolling back at the top to settle your front-end and find your peeling-in point. As this is blind, it will take a few laps to know exactly where to peel in but don’t worry about running wide as simply closing the throttle will soon get you back to the righthand apex. I always begin by holding 2nd gear round here then use 3rd once up to speed. As you arrive at the bottom of the hill, stay in the middle of the track for the next 180-degree left. There’s a big patch as you enter the corner which makes a great turning marker. If you go in too early you’ll end up with too much lean angle and compromise your exit speed and line. Staying in 2nd gear and opening the throttle gradually I pick the bike up and follow an almost straight line past the paint on the right apex then out to the paint on the left.

Don’t use any brakes here, closing the throttle is enough to pull the bike into the next blind right of turn five and the trickiest corner on the track. Don’t attack it as it is so easy to run out of track as you veer right over the hill. Be steady and smooth here, however if you fancy pushing, square it off, but make sure you get upright for a dab of brakes on the other side.

Sector Two: Turn Six to Turn Ten

Sector Two: Turn Six to Turn Ten

Remaining in 2nd gear I then sweep from the very outside of the track back to the right apex of turn six but not carrying too much speed. That would run you wide and cock up your track position for turn seven. I like to gradually build some speed here but with caution as turn seven is a downhill off camber left with a dip in the middle.

I hold a constant throttle until the bump then accelerate hard while pulling back to the paint on the left on the entry to turn eight. For most this will still be 2nd gear and it’s a simple case of braking hard before muscling your way through this right/left chicane paying attention to the slight dip on the exit.

I love this next section as you can really whack the throttle open now and finally get into third gear over the blind and scary rise. You can make turn nine open out and become faster by using all of the painted kerb. Just remember to get upright at the same time, and as with all paint, avoid it at the slightest sign of moisture. Initially I head to the left on this uphill section but as soon as I can see over the top I like to get upright for some safe braking while back shifting to 3rd gear into the next chicane.

Sector Three: Turn Eleven to Start/Finish

Sector Three: Turn Eleven to Start/Finish

You can virtually straightline this chicane by crossing the flat painted kerb on the exit. On the approach, try to get off the brakes early and carry as much momentum as possible to the other side. There is a temptation to brake too much. Don’t. Try to catch the throttle while short shifting to 3rd gear. This will give you a seamless transition as you use the entire track on the exit before heading round the next double right.

Forget the next apex and make one long arc to the outside then turn in late to the righthander onto the back straight. The moment you get to the paint get on the throttle. You’ll think you’re running too wide but the track opens out. This next straight goes on forever. I use a service road on the left as a reference for braking but there are plenty of other markers.

At long last you’ll get to use 4th, 5th and 6th before braking uphill for the penultimate righthander. Keep nice and tight here with only a slight squeeze on the throttle, then short shift to 3rd gear and swing back through the fast left onto the start finish straight. This is a slow in/fast out section and you should be opening the throttle from the moment you shift to third. Ideally you should be using every mm of the track on the exit but remember, slowly, slowly, catchee monkey...

More comprehensive track guides from Niall Mackenzie