Motorcycle Track Guide: Croft

It may not be on the BSB calendar for 2012, but that doesn't mean you should miss the chance to ride this demanding circuit

The first records of racing at Croft date back to the '20s, but it was only after World War 2 that Croft circuit became a significant motorsport venue. Before it temporarily closed in 1981, Croft was a mega fast triangle with a scary Armco barrier in your path as you entered what was the old start finish straight.

These days it has been totally transformed into a brilliant, well kept facility with friendly people in charge. Unfortunately, due to the nasty noise police, bike days are fewer than before but it's well worth a trip up to the North East to ride this excellent 2.1 mile circuit.

Like all airfield circuits, Croft is mostly fast and flat but it has a challenging, tight complex section just before the start/finish. It's narrow compared to the likes of Donington but the surface is grippy in both wet and dry conditions. It is a physically demanding track and also quite bumpy so a good suspension set up will certainly add to your enjoyment.

Croft is a fun and rewarding to ride but being narrow and fast means if you attack before you know where you are going you could pay a price. As always, lots of laps at a steady pace is the key to building confidence and ultimately enjoyment.

Start/finish to Chicane

Braking late into turn one (Clervaux) from 4th gear, you have to get back to second gear being careful to get off the brakes before the right apex, as it's easy to lose the front with the suspension fully loaded here.

Using all the track on the way out, it's ok to straight line the slight left kink before turning into the first apex of the next long right hander of Hawthorn. After brushing past this kerb change up to 3rd and let the bike drift out to roughly the middle of the track before pulling back to find the straightest line possible through the next fast right/left chicane. You’ll be building up serious speed here so it's best to find a late exit point and get as upright as possible on the way out to reduce any risk of high siding.

You’re now on to the fastest straight which offers plenty of time to get tucked in whilst you plan to head diagonally left for a nice straight line down the edge of the track into Tower. 

Tower Bend to Barcroft

This 4th or 5th gear section is quite bumpy so if you're getting any head shake here a few clicks on the steering damper or slightly stiffening the rear suspension should help. As you enter Tower Bend you’ll be braking hard and late into this 2nd or 3rd gear right but aim for a late apex as this helps to give a cleaner run out the other end.

Heading for the edge of the track on the run out, it's time to get tucked in again for the blast up to the 4th gear Jim Clark Esses. On the approach you should try to roll back the throttle on the entry as completely closing it scrubs off too much speed and unsettles the bike.

Barcroft to Sunny Out

Keeping good momentum through here, gradually roll the throttle on through the right then along to next super fast right of Barcroft. If you're chasing laps times then it's essential to nail this section.

The mega fast approach to the Sunny In right hander will take a bit of building up to but you’ll need to be tight at the right first apex then use all the track to the left half way round before pulling back to the next right (2nd gear) apex for Sunny Out.

Use the entire track on the way out as you crest the rise - with a late exit point - changing up to 3rd and then probably 4th as you head over to the right on the run along to the Complex.

Complex to Start/finish

This is a tricky section with a bumpy entry so always try to get the bike settled early and back to 3rd gear before turning into into this left hander. As you change direction, dropping it down into 2nd gear will help pull you back to the right apex on your run round to the final left hairpin. 

Swinging right on this approach whilst in 2nd will ensure a late apex for the hairpin and a safer, more upright exit onto the start/finish straight. Use all the track (and concrete) on the way out onto that final straight.