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Snetterton's original purpose was as an RAF airfield, designated for use by the 96th United States Air Force Bomber Group between May 1943 and November 1948. The circuit itself was created in 1951 from the network of remaining runways and its first race event was held in the same year by the Aston Martin Owner's Club.
The circuit configuration has changed several times during Snetterton's 60 year history. In the 1960s and early 70s it was 2.7 miles in length and during this period Russell Bend was added as the final corner of the track, in order to slow race vehicles as they approached the pits. Since the 1970s, however, the lap was shortened considerably to just under two miles until 2010, when circuit owner MSV announced the greatest redevelopment in the venue's history to create a new multi-configuration layout, completed in February 2011.
Snetterton has hosted many significant events over the past six decades, including non-championship F1 encounters, the first Formula Ford events and the UK's first ever 24 hour race, the Willhire 24 Hour, which ran from 1980 to 1994. It is also a renowned testing venue and has contributed to the development of many race winning cars, including those from the Lotus factory such as the DFV-powered 49 and the Indy 500-winning 38. Most recently, a host of Le Mans 24 Hour cars have been developed at the Norfolk track, including Bentley's first Le Mans car for 70 years, the EXP Speed Eight. The all-conquering Audi R8 and Williams BMW LMP were also spotted first at Snetterton.
You'll find the circuit 10 miles north-east of Thetford on the A11 from London to Norwich.
The 300 circuit, first opened in 2011, captures a lot of the old circuit and adds an interesting infield section, which has some tricky corners. As usual, gearing is just a guide and based on a big bike!
The Start (Senna Straight)
Most big bikes will be in 5th gear across the start/finish and it's important to stay close to the left side of the track as you approach the braking zone.
Turn 1 is Riches, which is a double-apex corner. 3rd gear is usually spot on and you should be tipping in to clip the edge of the rumble-strip before drifting back out a few metres before getting on the gas and heaving it back to the second part of the rumble-strip. Getting this right will mean you use all of the track on the corner exit.
Turn 2 is the Montreal Hairpin. This is a deceptive turn with a bumpy, downhill approach and braking zone. This corner is all about the exit and with such a long, slow turn that means a late apex so don't hurry to get turning in! The late apex will let you get the bike upright sooner. Keep your weight off the bike as long as you can to get the power down hard. Just don't open the throttle too early or you'll run wide and end up in the dirt! Then aim yourself diagonally across the track as you'll want to straighten up before you start braking for turn 3.
Turn 3, Palmer, is a 3rd gear left-hander. As mentioned above, it's a good idea to cross to the right side of the track sooner so that you can lose a little speed (but you won't need to lose much) and ensure you hit the apex (which is about 2/3 of the way around the rumble strip) of Palmer. Bring the throttle in smoothly and use your bodyweight again to get the bike upright sooner. Too early on the throttle and you'll be saying Hello to the grass on the exit! Build up.
Now we head down the short straight to Turn 4, Agostini. This is another slow 1st or 2nd gear corner. You can build up to a late braking zone here as you should tip in late and deep so that you can take a late apex and gas it down to Turn 5.
Hamilton (Turn 5) just requires a dab of brake on the big bikes and a relatively late but hard tip in to run right up to the rumble strip on the inside. Get it right and you'll use all of the track and still have time to cut diagonally over to the left hand side of the track for Turn 6.
Turn 6 is Oggies. This is another double-apex right-hander. The entry is downhill and catches people out because it's bumpy. Stay wide to the left and then cut in late so that you can hold the bike close to the right rumble strip right through the second part of the corner. The exit is bumpy and it's easy to get caught out and high-side on a big capacity bike, so again, build up and get used to the feeling of the back end moving about.
Snick the bike up to 3rd and get over to the left so you can tip in quite late for Turn 7, Williams. This is a great corner as it's smooth and fast. You'll run along the rumble-strip for a few metres about 2/3 the way along it and then start feeding the power in to carry you across to the far rumble-strip. Be aware that water tends to gather here when it rains and it's one of the last places on the track to dry!
Now give it everything and get tucked in along Bentley Straight, ensuring you get yourself as far to the right as you can. That said, you can make some pretty sneaky overtakes on the left on the entry to Turn 8 Brundle.
Brundle (Turn 8) is a deceptive corner; it looks tight because of the bridge and barriers blocking your view of the exit. You also know there's a tight bend after it and you're probably in 6th at quite a velocity! Stay to the right and aim for an apex somewhere before you actually reach the rumble-strip. This will allow you to turn late, fast and get the bike upright and line up to quickly brake hard and snick it down to 2nd for a quick flick into Turn 9, named after a famous Norfolk resident.
Turn 9, Nelson, requires accuracy. There's no way to go fast through such a tight corner but pay close attention to smoothly getting on the throttle and being aware of the bike being sufficiently upright to feed in full power as soon as you can. Impress the marshals with an awesome power-wheelie before realising you've still got the front wheel in the air and you're now approaching the braking zone for Turn 10.
Bomb Hole. Turn 10 is fast and bumpy, so be prepared to hold on tight. The sudden upward gradient change as you approach the apex will cause the suspension and tyres to compress. You'll see a lot of marks from foot-pegs hitting the deck, so learn where the track moves away from you and use your body-weight to compensate. The track crests more towards the outside on the exit, which catches people out if they're off-line. It's easy to lose the rear so be mindful of your track position as you open the throttle.
Get the bike upright and gas it towards Turn 11, Coram. At track-days it always looks like they've put the tip-in point marker far too far into the entry of Coram but the reality is that if you take a late tip-in and Apex here, you'll get to stay on the gas for longer on the short straight and you can get the slow part of the corner over and done with sooner. It's a fast turn, usually taken high in the revs in 3rd or 4th. The trick is you can get quicker and quicker through the turn whilst slowly getting closer and closer to the inside rumble-strip. As it finishes, I bring the bike upright by getting off the throttle, which compresses the front suspension. The geometry change starts the bike lifting up. Then get on the brakes hard when you are upright so you can tip in for Turn 12.
Turn 12, Murrays is off camber on the entry but the apex is mid-way through the bend, so that you carry a consistent speed through the corner. This is another bend where you want to use all of the track and keep your body weight off to bring the bike upright quickly, meaning you can use full-throttle sooner.
Download a PDF of the circuit plan.