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10 alternative circuits the BSB should totally race at!

We like the majority of circuits on the British Superbike Championship (BSB) calendar... but we can still dream big when it comes to fun alternatives

Spa-Francorchamps


Just before Christmas we ran a social media post containing four existing British Superbike Championship (BSB) and asked you which you would drop if you had to.

Many of you said Silverstone despite it not being one of the options (and actually I disagree anyway because in its National configuration the racing is nothing less than breathless) but the post was actually borne out of a misunderstanding in which I was asked which circuits to choose and instead proceeded to reel off which circuits I thought we should race at.

Anyway, while this suggests I should read questions before answering them, it has given rise to this feature about circuits that we think would make a fun addition to the calendar.

A couple of disclaimers, though we’ll freely admit one or two on here are far on the scale of fetched, we’ve consciously not included road racing tracks likes of the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course and Oliver’s Mount (sorry) and while we do go abroad too, we have done so in the spirit of visiting Assen… so we’re not going to suggest BSB heads to Phillip Island.

We’re fairly sure 80 per cent of these won’t end up on the calendar in the near future, but here’s holding out for the 20 per cent…

Mallory Park, 2007 BSB

Mallory Park

Those of a certain age will remember Mallory Park being on the BSB calendar, last being used in 2010.

Really, when you look at the venue, you wonder how it was kept on the schedule for so long, its 2.1km in length being predominantly an oval interspersed with a couple of chicanes and bookended by one of the tightest hairpins in motorsport.

Josh Brookes infamously wiped himself and four of his rivals at the corner as though he was their bowling ball to their skittles during his rookie 2009 BSB campaign when he got his braking all wrong. He was banned for two rounds but in reality it exposed BSB as having outgrown Mallory Park in terms of speed and stability.

That’s not to say it isn’t missed. Short, fast and relentless, the Race of the Year still attracts Superbike entries but a field of 26 or so BSB bikes would probably have us watching through our fingers…

Croft

It has always surprised us that Croft - a staple of the equivalent four-wheel British Touring Car Championship - has never made it back onto the BSB schedule, dropping off a year after Mallory Park in 2011.

At the time MSVR said it was because Croft couldn’t guarantee the outlay in running the UK’s best attended national motorsport series, though the more cynical will point out it’s because it isn’t owned by MSVR itself (only Thruxton, Knockhill and Silverstone remain as non-MSVR BSB rounds).

Croft is an unusual circuit but is surely one of the most challenging and technical in the UK, with a fast - perhaps too fast - back section complemented by a twisty first sector and the incredibly tight final sector, containing possibly the slowest speed hairpin in the UK that you almost have to put your foot down to navigate.

Its omission remains a shame for the North-East, leaving them to make their way down to Cadwell Park or up to Knockhill.

Mondello Park, Republic of Ireland

Before Assen, BSB satisfied its pseudo-international status with a few trips over to Ireland for Mondello Park in the 2000s. 

Only a 45min drive from Dublin, Ireland’s only permanent motorsport facility, Mondello Park wasn’t the most exciting layout despite appearing like a combination of Jerez and Valencia.

Even so, while we wait for Northern Ireland to go ahead with the construction of an international circuit it has been promising for years, Mondello Park would provide a more local pilgrimage for the many fans across the Irish Sea.

Anglesey Circuit

Anglesey Circuit

Wales’ very own Phillip Island, the Anglesey Circuit exists on a tiny peninsula in the nation’s northernmost edge, with part of the layout tracing the rocky coastline close enough that you’d be concerned for whether a more airborne crash would end up lost to the sea.

Fast and flat, we are confident a field of BSB motorcycles at full pelt around its quick curves would be a joy to watch, especially with waves crashing into the perimeter on the outside.

Owners have even applied for permission to extend it, which makes us a little bit giddy at the prospect of Wales getting its own BSB race having skirted using its other permanent facility, Pembrey, while it would help banish the disaster that was trying to kickstart the stillborn Circuit of Wales MotoGP project. 

And if you think it’s location is a bit of a detour, the short trip between Dublin and nearby Holyhead would give Ireland a de facto round to attend too.

Suzuki GSX-R1000R Almeria

Almeria, Spain (or any other Spanish venue)

We are loathe to suggest BSB should venture too far from these shores but we’ve included Almeria since it is the go-to for many teams looking to get some pre-pre-winter testing without having to navigate the UK’s unpredictable climate.

In theory any Spanish venue could be effective here since the nation is certainly not short of them with the likes of Jerez, Motorland Aragon and Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona operating year round for tests.

However, we’ve chosen Almeria since it is well known among many of the riders, where the fast, undulating layout has been compared with Laguna Seca. Imagine that, BSB riders on a layout akin to the iconic Californian venue…

At the very least, as anyone who will know what it feels like to spend a day sinking into wet grass trying to eat a damp burger and wearing a dripping cagoule as rain beats down, a bit of summer sun, BSB racing and a little weekend break away does have a lot of appeal…

Laon Aerodrome, France

We’ll forgive you for not having heard of Laon Aerodrome, located in north-eastern France between the capital Paris and Lille on the border with Belgium, and frankly if you took a look at it now there isn’t all that much to get excited by either.

A former airport, unlike fellow aerodromes-turned-circuits on the calendar - such as Snetterton and Silverstone - its recent aviation past is still very much on display with terminal buildings in the background

With a new airport having been built nearby, the existing Aerodrome has been adapted into a curvy racing circuit at one end, with different longer configurations incorporating the runway and taxi-routes.

So why have we included it? Well, in 2019 MSVR purchased the facility and had set a Spring 2021 date for a reopening with brand new facilities that would make it a fully-fledged racing venue, one that could appear on a BSB calendar potentially (though the original communication stopped short of saying this).

Things have gone rather quiet on this front though we assume COVID impacted that erstwhile date, but there is clearly some potential in this project that would take BSB over the short border into France… and frankly, who doesn’t want to see BSB blasting down a 1.5km straight?

Spa-Francorchamps

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

BSB plus arguably the most revered racing circuit in the world, including the most famous corner in Eau Rouge? Oui, merci!

Spa-Francorchamps isn’t just a go-to for Belgian motorsport fans, it is a Mecca for motorsport fans around the world.

Better still, the prospect of a little trip across the English Channel a la Assen seems ever more likely now given the venue has been granted international status to allow for its addition to the 2022 Endurance World Championship.

British F3 used a similar trick when it was regarded as an ‘International’ series and we reckon the addition of Spa-Francorchamps to a BSB calendar would encourage a number of the EWC racers to try and muscle in on some track time as wildcards…

Zandvoort, Netherlands

In reality, we would probably rather see a return to Assen, which quietly dropped off the calendar after 2019 due to COVID restrictions and suspiciously hasn’t returned for 2021 or 2022, making us wonder if Brexit is a factor instead.

If BSB’s popular annual jaunt to The Cathedral of Speed isn’t on, then how about a switch to the Netherlands’ other internationally recognised venue, Zandvoort.

While the wending coastal circuit has its roots in four-wheel racing and became a shadow of its former self when its high speeds were reined in during the 90s, recent innovative upgrades for the sole purpose of luring F1 to its shores so as to capitalise on its superstar F1 World Championship winning hero Max Verstappen means it proposes an interesting motorcycle solution.

After previous attempts to bring F1 to the Netherlands were scuppered by too small run-offs and no space behind anywhere to extend without encroaching on residential developments or inconveniently re-routing the track across the beach, designers adopted an ingenious plan to simply bank some of the curves.

A steep camber means walls could be placed at the top and give drivers the opportunity to try different lines, which is handy since the rest of the undulating layout is really far too tight for F1… but not for Superbikes. 

While you may baulk at the idea of walls on a circuit, we would point to other banked venues like Daytona and Indianapolis, plus circuits where the walls are certainly rather close like Imola and even Brands Hatch on some of the GP circuit bends. Plus crashes would at least slide in one direction.

We’d still pick Assen any day, but Zandvoort is a closer second than before.

Dunsfold Aerdrome

If the name doesn’t ring a bell you’ll certainly recognise it as the so-called Top Gear test track.

OK, so we’re reaching a little bit in terms of plausibility but much like Laon Aerdrome there are umpteen different combinations you could use here, though in our heads we foresee it as becoming a Top Gear tie-in that ends up with Paddy McGuinness lining up on the grid - anything to get BSB on the BBC..

Part of the reason for my inclusion of this - and by extension Bedford Aerdrome and Bruntingthorpe - is misty-eyed memories of the (four-wheel) 1990s DTM (German Touring Cars) where you just needed some cones and a few vicious kerbs dotted about to deliver some manic racing.

Better still, you could change the configuration every year…

Birmingham Super Prix

Birmingham Super Prix

OK, OK… I know what you’re going to say. ‘That is an amazing idea…’ Ahem.

Before you say ‘how could you leave out the Isle of Man TT but include the oft-forgotten Birmingham Super Prix’, for me the TT is just too obvious and way too long for a race too (plus BSB spec machines more or less already race there…).

So what about a reprisal of the UK’s own, erm, Monaco Grand Prix? For those who may not know, the Birmingham Super Prix was an annual fixture between 1986 and 1990, albeit only for four wheels, and attracting the prestigious Formula 3000 series, which sat just below F1.

The Birmingham Super Prix was a quirky little idea, marking the first motorsport street event in the UK, blasting through one of Europe’s busiest - albeit not exactly most attractive - cities.

I mean, there is Monaco with its Casinos and the Fairmont, and here is Birmingham set to the backdrop of Woolies and a Forte.

Yes, we have had a couple of London ePrix Formula E events but one traversed Battersea Park on a pedestrian route barely wide enough for pedestrians and the more recent event at Excel centre combined a conference space and a car park.

There is actually talk of this event - either in Birmingham or on the Coventry ring road (no, seriously) - being reprised after a change in the law that allows motorsport on public English roads but so far nothing has come of it.

Naturally motorcycles and streets don’t make great bedfellows and this is straying into road race territory, but the Macau Grand Prix is still somehow still hosting two-wheels, so…

Then again, Macau also has casinos and Birmingham circa 2022 has… TKMaxx*.

(* for the record, I am a fan of Birmingham city centre in case anyone is offended. And TKMaxx for that matter)