Is Imatra the maddest race circuit still in use today?

With fast straights, tree-lined stretches and even a railway track to cross, there really is no in-use track like the Imatra Circuit

Imatra Circuit

In 2020, MotoGP returns to Finland at the brand-new, state-of-the-art KymiRing bringing international motorcycle racing competition back to the Scandinavian nation for the first time since 1982 when Imatra played host to motorcycling’s greatest and bravest.

We use the term ‘bravest’ pointedly because Imatra – even by the somewhat more lenient standards of the era – was as much of an exhilarating thrill as it was a barmy racing venue.

Back when Finland last featured on the grand prix motorcycle racing calendar, other venues in use during, say 1976, remarkably included the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the Montjuich street circuit in Barcelona.

Far be it for us to point out why those particular venues may not a good idea for high-speed racing, Imatra (or Imatranajo) with its long straights, cheeky chicanes and – bizarrely – a train track you have to ride across is still in operation today as a round on the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) calendar.

It hasn’t always been in use. The circuit dropped off the GP schedule after 1982 and racing there was ceased altogether in 1986 following a fatality involving a six-year-old spectator.

Imatra as a racing venue returned in 2016 to be included on IRRC and uses an almost identical layout which looks somewhere between the North West 200 and the original Hockenheimring.

And yes, you do still need to rush across train tracks just after turn one… presumably after trains have been cancelled!

Watch a lap of Imatra Circuit