Motorcycle Track Guide: Snetterton

Master Sear corner and Coram Curve as Niall gives a guided tour of Snetterton

Some people complain that Snetterton is simply a case of riding up one way then down another, but I disagree. Sure it’s virtually flat and pretty featureless but I still believe there’s fun to be had and riding skills to be learned.

I’m proud to claim I’ve won in every class I’ve entered there (Pro-Am, 250, 350, Superbike and Sunday market guess-the-weight-of-the-joint) but I reckon my most infamous moment was taking Steve Hislop out on the last lap of the 1998 BSB race. He was my Cadbury’s Boost Yamaha team-mate at the time and giving boss Rob Mac a 3rd and a 4th when it was an easy 1st and 2nd didn’t make me too popular.

Sector One: Start/Finish to Sears

Sector One: Start/Finish to Sears

Passing the start finish in 5th gear you should be heading off as close as you dare to the left side of the track while using the changes of surface or 300/200m boards as braking markers. Riches is a double apex third gear corner with a bump that upsets the front-end so I always begin with a trial and error session finding the smoothest line.

The approach is fast but you only need to brake gently as third gear engine braking will pull you in to the first apex. At this point you should get gently back on the throttle and let yourself drift back into the middle section of the track before pulling back to the second apex on the right. From here you need to think about getting the bike upright and then use a blast of acceleration into Sears. If you find you’re running wide here, discipline yourself to keep the throttle closed longer and square the corner off more. Giving too much gas too early will either have you highsiding or running out of track. If you do this at the wrong time of the year you could quite possibly end up with a fairing full of cabbages. You‘ll have to brake hard while changing back to second gear next but try not to get sucked in too early for this slightly off camber right-hander.

The earlier you turn in to Sears, the wider you’ll be on the exit and that could mean running onto the concrete apron where there’s all kinds of dirt and loose gravel. Turning in later might mean you’re a bit slower at the apex; however you’ll be more upright and able to accelerate earlier and harder.

Section Two: Sears to Coram Curve

Section Two: Sears to Coram Curve

The exit from Sears onto the Revett straight also takes practice but a clean job can make a 20 mph difference to your top speed at the next braking point. Slipstreaming on track days is never a good idea. BUT, on long straights like Revetts you’ll easily pick up a tow from three bike-lengths back. I like to give myself plenty of room when passing and will never risk a close pass down the left side of another rider – clipping a front brake lever here doesn’t bear thinking about.

The 300m board is a good starting point for braking but there are various tarmac patches and gaps in the fence that’ll do the same job on the approach to the Esses. Shakey once found he had no brake lever into here at 178mph! This is the first of only two left-handers at Snetterton and coming off a long straight means for the first three laps you’ll have reduced grip on the left side of your tyre.  From sixth gear I shift back to third then just past the left apex go back one more gear to second. I try to keep quite tight to the left so when I flick the bike to the right I’m not carrying too much lean angle and can get back on the throttle immediately. The next short third gear straight leads down to the Bomb Hole where it’s a quick dab of brakes to settle the front. I stay off the throttle until I clip the apex. Here the bike is nicely balanced so you can wind the throttle on and follow a long arc to the very outside of the track round to Coram’s.

Section Three: Coram Curve to Start/Finish

Section Three: Coram Curve to Start/Finish

Just like Sears, a later entry and apex at Coram’s will set you up on the right line as you aim for the white line down the left side of the track on the approach to Russell’s Chicane. On my R6 I use third gear from before the Bomb Hole round Coram’s then back to first for Russell’s. Initially, I brake hard here, gradually releasing the brake as I head to the right hand apex then backshift to first gear using engine braking to scrub off the last bit of momentum. It’s then a quick dip to the left but, and I’ve seen dozens of riders caught out here… only open the throttle just before you’re upright and happy that you’re back on the fat part of the rear tyre. This second left-hander is one of the trickiest in the UK and it’s ended several racing careers. There’s very little time to be made up here so I tip-toe through then nail the throttle wide open when I know I’m upright and safe. Once out of this corner I simply follow the white line on the right and once alongside the pit lane wall barrier gradually make my way back to the left over the start/finish.

Mackenzie’s Essential Tip
With Snetterton so exposed wet and windy weather often appears unexpectedly. SO... allow for tail winds while braking and be ready for strong gusts round Coram Curve.

Witness Mark Forsyth demonstrating a fast lap around Snetterton

Gain more track tuition from Niall Mackenzie