Knockhill Circuit looks set to make history this year as plans are coming to fruition to run their round of the MCE British Superbike Championship in a different circuit configuration.
Knockhill Racing Circuit, which celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year with support from Homecoming Scotland, restarted racing, track days and experiences in the counter-clockwise direction in 2012. Regular racing events utilising this alternative layout used to take place right up until the early 1990s but, apart from a single event in 1994, racing using this circuit direction has been missing from the Knockhill events calendar until the MSA and SACU gave the green light March 2012 following a £100,000 programme of circuit improvements.
Since then, a total of over 50 motorcycle and car track days, test days and both bike and car race events have been held and significant experience gained. This prompted the progressive circuit management team led by Derek Butcher to request to MCE BSB Series governing body MCRCB and promoter MSVR a full evaluation of what would be needed to allow for the annual MCE BSB event to be run using this circuit configuration.
MCE BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs takes up the story: "Since the circuit restarted events in the counter clockwise direction we've been curious to learn how they've been received and in talking with Niall Mackenzie, Stuart Easton and Dennis Hobbs, amongst others, who have had firsthand experience they were very enthusiastic and positive as to how it was to ride, in fact there are a number of factors which have shown this configuration to be better for competitors and spectators and viewers, with some of the well-known features of the circuit much enhanced.
"For BSB to make the transition the circuit needed to have a number of inspections by the respective regulatory bodies, MCRCB for British Championship level motorcycle racing and the MSA for car racing. MCRCB made two detailed inspections. I participated representing MSVR as the promoter and organiser and invited multiple British Champions Niall Mackenzie and Stuart Easton for their invaluable input. We made a number of determinations specifically taking into account the higher performance level of BSB and some of the characteristics and procedures of BSB events.
The co-operation and commitment of the circuit management was excellent and the following scope of works is now underway.
1) Modification of the pit exit - lengthened and widened acceleration lane.
2) Re-profile of the apex of the Hairpin to increase track width.
3) Increased safety zone in the head-on position at the Hairpin.
Combination of points 2 & 3 extends the safety area and deceleration zone.
4) Complete removal of the existing tyre wall and bank at Hislops.
5) Extension of the gravel bed in the head-on position at the Chicane.
6) Removal of the combination kerb on the right hand apex of the Chicane.
7) Extension and modification of the pitlane entrance.
8) Extra protection/barrier defence at the pit entry.
9) Deployment of approximately 200 metres of additional Recticel RR (FIM) Type A soft barrier.
10) Re-siting of flag marshal and track marshals positions as appropriate."
Once completed the MCRCB will be in a position to grant a track licence for this configuration and the subsequent organisation of a multi-class official test which is scheduled for Thursday/Friday 8/9th May.
Knockhill Chief Executive Derek Butcher concluded: "We invested in giving Scotland, and Britain, another circuit over the winter of 2011/12 and since then, the "new" circuit has provided such a different challenge, and for many, they prefer competing on it! Once a rider has done 40 - 50 laps to get into a rhythm, we are convinced that all the BSB riders and those in the support classes, and not least the thousands of spectators, will love the new challenges of this new layout. It will be fascinating to hear the feedback from the riders in May after they have had a few sessions to get familiar with Britain's newest track".