There are multiple factors that makes for an exciting motorcycle race. The racing itself being an obvious one, but what about the circuit? Like football grounds, a special circuit has history and atmosphere, and fans that are incredibly passionate about what they’re watching.
Iconic circuits also have memorable sections, like Arrabbiata 1 and 2 at Mugello, or the “The Mountain” at Cadwell Park, that make them stand out and excite racing fans, and it’s usually at these circuits that the best races in the sport’s history have taken place. So, here’s our list of some the most iconic motorcycle racetracks from around the world…
Assen – The Netherlands
Nicknamed “The Cathedral of Speed”, Assen is steeped in two-wheeled racing history. Until this year’s coronavirus outbreak, it was the only circuit to have remained on the Grand Prix racing calendar since the championship’s inaugural year in 1949, although its current layout is quite different to how it once was.
The original track was first used in 1925 for the Dutch TT and was made up of brick-paved country roads that weaved their way for over 17 miles through towns and villages. It stayed like that for 30 years before the modern short circuit that fans are familiar with today was built close to the old road circuit.
It continues to host the Dutch round of the MotoGP championship, where in recent years famous last lap battles have taken place between Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards, and Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, coming down to the final chicane. World Superbikes also travel to Assen, and even British Superbikes venture there for the only overseas round in the British championships.
Cadwell Park – Great Britain
Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire is one of the most popular (and challenging) circuits in England, both for watching professional racers battle it out and for budding track day riders to test their own abilities. Its two-mile layout is narrow and includes a mix of tricky corners, dips and crests thanks to it being positioned across a steep-sided valley. The gradient and elevation changes are a staple of Cadwell Park and has led to its nickname, the “Mini-Nürburgring”.
“The Mountain” is the most famous section of the track, where bikes become airborne by several feet, making it a spectator hotspot during a race weekend, with race winners often referred to as the “King of the Mountain”.
Philip Island – Australia
Located on a small island off the southern coast of Australia, about two hours’ drive from Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, Philip Island has one of the most spectacular back drops of any racetrack in the world, not to mention some of the best corners. Turn three, Stoner Corner, is named after the legendary Australian two-times MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who was renowned for drifting around the left-hander leaving fans slack-jawed lap after lap.
Another iconic site at Philip Island is as riders exit the final turn and accelerate onto the Gardner Straight (named after Australian Grand Prix World Champion, Wayne Gardner), MotoGP bikes reach speeds of over 200mph before they brake dipping down into turn one. It’s at this point that the riders look like they’re dropping off the edge of a cliff, as the track dips away leaving views of nothing but the open ocean in front of them.
Due to its geographic location, the circuit is also known to experience all four seasons in one day. Depending on the wind direction, cold and blustery weather can be blown in from Antarctica in the south, or warm weather can come from Australia’s tropics in the north.
Mugello – Italy
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Tuscany in Italy, Mugello holds a special place in the country’s racing fans’ hearts. The MotoGP race weekend at Mugello is traditionally Italian, renowned for being extremely hard to get into, but once you’re through the gates, the passion, noise and plumes of yellow smoke hits you. The sea of yellow is because of the all-out support for Italian MotoGP legend and nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi.
When the lights go out and over 20 MotoGP bikes race towards turn one, called San Donato, the noise is intensified as Mugello is located in what could be described as a bowl, surrounded by hills and mountains that give the Tuscany region its natural beauty. The landscape surrounding Mugello adds to the overall atmosphere, which increases ten-fold if a certain number 46 wins the race.
Laguna Seca – USA
Laguna Seca in central California takes its name from its Spanish meaning “dry lagoon”, as the track lies in what was once a lake. It’s home to the famous downhill “Corkscrew” at turns 8 and 8A, arguably the most unique corner configuration of any racetrack anywhere in the world.
To break it down, this is what riders have to tackle when navigating the “Corkscrew”. At the apex to turn 8, the elevation change is 12 %. By the time riders reach the apex of turn 8A (the right-hander), the elevation is at its steepest, an 18% drop. In total, the track drops 59 feet between the entrance of the “Corkscrew” and the exit, the equivalent of a 5½ story drop in only 450 feet of track length. Watching top level riders through this section of track is one of the most spectacular sites in motorcycle racing.
If you haven’t watched motorcycle racing at any of these tracks before, put them on your bucket list!