Thruxton announces safety improvements

Thruxton owners BARC have announced safety improvements to Church bend, the circuit's fastest corner, after three crashes there during this year's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting.

In separate incidents, Nick Foster, Ollie Jackson and Simon Belcher all left the circuit at Church bend.

Nick Foster was among those to crash at Thruxton this year Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After a consultation lasting more than four months, and involving motorsport's governing body the MSA, as well as the Environment Agency and local planning department, the circuit has applied for planning permission to change the elevation of the run off area, remove shrubs, and replace the tyre barrier with Armco and belted tyres.

Bill Coombs, Thruxton Group Managing Director, issued the following statement on the proposed plans: “Thruxton has always had a long-term desire to level off the run-off area at Church, but because of the slope at the early part of the run-off, a solution was always going to require planning permission.

“Although a fast corner, Church has always been a relatively safe bend and so the priority has always been to focus on improving safety at corners where accidents were most likely to result in injury – hence changes to the chicane kerbing for bikes and considerable work moving the entire start-line Armco back four metres at the beginning of 2014.

“We have been in discussion with the MSA, MCRCB, Environment Agency, Planning Authority and Thruxton’s landowner Western Air for quite some time, and it is hoped that we will gain permission to enlarge the run-off area further – which will require about 300m of hedge coming down – and gain a gentle slope in the key, early area of run-off. Western Air has been extremely co-operative in helping us with this.

“This is a much more complex project than it might appear, and it will require a significant amount of material to raise the levels as well as considerable drainage work, and needs to be combined with some flood defence work for Thruxton Village. Hence there is still much technical detail to be sorted, but the hope is that we will get planning approval early in the new year.

“This should allow some work to be started prior to the February test and 2015 season, but it will be completed in stages, with the bulk happening over the winter from 2015 to 2016. The scale of the work and limited close-season time means it is expected to take a few years to complete fully.

“When finished, the key areas of run-off should have a gentle graded rise towards the barriers – rather than a drop as at present – should be much smoother, extended in key places by 10-15m and will be fronted by Armco and belted tyre barriers.”