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Motorcycle Track Guide: Rockingham

Built as an Indy-style oval, with an infield track grafted on as an afterthought, join Niall Mackenzie for a lap of the east midlands track

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Niall Mackenzie's picture
Submitted by Niall Mackenzie on Thu, 22/07/2010 - 12:04

Motorcycle Track Guide: Rockingham

Along with every other motorsport fan in the UK back in 2001, I couldn’t wait for the opening of the fantastic new £60 million pound Rockingham Circuit near Northampton. As I drove in I was blown away with the acres of parking behind the state-of-the-art grandstands, the hospitality suites and media facilities. But I had one look at the international circuit knew it would never work for bikes.

Mating infields to oval circuits lined with concrete walls has never worked. I’ve ridden at Daytona, Lausitzring and Homestead, all quite exciting in a scary way, but no fun and definitely dangerous. I’m glad Rockingham is surviving but I was gutted at the opening and still am today. A Valencia type facility would easily have fitted the space available and probably cost less. It is not a complete disaster however, and while it may not be in the UK’s top ten, the shorter (1.7m) national circuit I’m about to talk you round is still fun, quite challenging and most importantly very safe.

The Rockingham national circuit might not be an all-time classic but it’s great facility for teaching and learning track skills. It incorporates some great slow and fast corners, a few changes of elevation and if you’re after getting your knee down for the first time I couldn’t recommend anywhere better.

The surface is good and is also stupidly grippy in the wet. If we had no other options in the UK I’d be happy to ride there every week – but we have, so I don’t. Every time I cruise in through the main gates and see the imposing Tri Oval grandstands I just can’t help thinking how good this place could have been.

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