Motorcycle Track Guides: Thruxton

Learn the fast and undulating Thruxton circuit with Niall Mackenzie

It won't surprise to me if you've never ridden Thruxton, as trackdays are few and far between these days due to harsh noise restrictions. Race organisers have the same problem too, which is ironic as an active airfield that operates daily in the middle of the circuit.

Personally I love the place, however James Whitham once described it as "a hideous fairground ride just waiting to go wrong" but don’t let that put you off.

Superbikes reach their highest top speeds of the season after they exit Church corner on the run up to the final chicane and the nature of this ultra fast circuit means there will normally be tight bunch of riders battling for victory on the last lap. I managed to come out on top five times in my BSB appearances there, but not without exchanging paint on a few occasions with a certain Mr Hislop.

The circuit remains virtually unchanged in thirty years but with acres of run off at most corners, riders normally stay safe should they take to the grass at high speed. The surface is bumpy and undulates pretty much all the way round however it has fantastic grip both in the wet and the dry.

Writing this brings back vivid memories of the super fast roller coaster ride that is Thruxton.

Every rider that goes there for the first time tries hard to fine tune suspension in an attempt to get their bike handling better but you soon realise this is a waste of time. It is more a case of clamping hands, knees and elbows to the bike and gradually trying to build momentum. No one has ever had the perfect handling bike at Thruxton and I doubt they ever will. There are riders who love this place and some that struggle but everyone agrees that riding around Thruxton is an unforgettable experience.

Start/finish to Campbell

Start/finish to Campbell

The start/finish bends slightly right and you’ll be in 4th gear as you roll back the throttle to scrub off speed for the late entry into Allard. Once back to the right hand apex it is gently back on the throttle and you should be pushing on the left hnad foot peg to help flick to the left as you head to the opposite side of the track for the high speed run round to Campbell.

Once over to the left it is a simple case of following the edge of the track round the slight rise as you accelerate through 4th and 5th gears. As the track straightens on the approach to the tight right of Campbell you should position yourself mid-track and brace yourself for heavy braking and some quick back-shifting to 2nd gear.

Be careful here as there is a dip in the track just as you want to turn right and with your forks close to using all their travel it is easy to tuck the front. I try to feel this dip before releasing the brakes and then aim for the right hand kerb.

Segrave to Goodwood

Segrave to Noble

After Campbell the track then turns immediately left and then right so getting the first of this trio of corners right makes a big difference at the next two.

Once through Campbell you should short shift up to 3rd gear as the left of Cobb opens out but still remain in the middle of the track as you increase your speed through Segrave and aim to use all of the track on the exit.

At this point it is tempting to whack open the throttle but as many top riders have found the track undulates here so unless you squeeze the throttle open gradually there is a high risk of high siding into a nearby Landover.

Noble to Church

Noble to Church

Once safely out of Segrave the fun really begins. Modern bikes cope extremely well with the bumpy Thruxton surface but you’ll need to hang on tight as you’ll be up to 4th gear and over 100mph as you head to the right side of the track before flicking left into Noble.

Again it is a case of rolling the throttle rather than braking then once your exit point is in view more hard acceleration as you gather speed through Goodwood down to Village. Your reference point should be the Marshalls post on the right and you’ll swing towards this from the middle of the track just brushing past the grass before returning to the middle of the track just past this apex.

You’ll now start to curve right and finally shift up to 5th gear as you move out as close as you dare to the grass on the run down to Church. The momentum is really building now and so 140mph is the norm before a dab of front brake and back to 4th gear as you ride the ripples through the mother of all fast corners in the UK. Only when you are over the ripples should you open the throttle, as I can tell you having the rear step out here is not a good experience.

Brooklands to Start/finish

Brooklands to Start/finish

As you tuck in to head up through Brooklands and Woodham Hill grabbing 5th and 6th gear in the process is even faster than Church. If you’re brave you’ll get all the way to the Marshalls post on the left before braking into the club chicane.

This section is tricky as you are turning right at high speed while still braking. I try to do a big chunk of braking early on then change down the gears and let engine braking do the rest. The kerbs are raised here so either bail out early (straight line the chicane) or have a slow-in fast-out plan. You’ll have to muscle your bike from left to right, but be careful as you are once again about to enter high side city.

On the exit try to get as upright as possible before giving maximum gas as you’ll find a number of dips in the surface as you accelerate on to the start finish.