ISSC: Rockingham circuit trials

The International Single-Seater Challenge development car created the unofficial lap record for Britain's sensational new Rockingham Motor Speedway last Friday, during successful trials to evaluate the Northamptonshire circuit's contours on behalf...

The International Single-Seater Challenge development car created the unofficial lap record for Britain's sensational new Rockingham Motor Speedway last Friday, during successful trials to evaluate the Northamptonshire circuit's contours on behalf of builder Morrison Construction and surfacing contractor Colas.

Driven by Guy Smith, the 310bhp Reynard-Chrysler V6 chassis lapped the 1.5-mile tri-oval in the 36s bracket, for an average speed of 144mph, in the course of a 50-lap programme. The previous mark, of 131mph, was set by an 800bhp Pontiac Grand Prix NASCAR stock car, the first to run on the track, last month.

"I didn't know what to expect, and had to be cautious because there was a lot of construction work going on, but the track is fantastic to drive," said Smith. "The four corners are different, each with its own personality. It's also nice and wide, with four distinct lines, which will make for great racing."

Fitted with potentiometers to gauge microscopic surface level variations, the loaded racing car fed information to on-board data acquisition equipment, which conventional laser measuring devices cannot pick up. Results are being analysed prior to the application of the final surface.

PI Research made available the data logging equipment along with an engineer to work with the Meritus team who professionally produced the information Rockingham sought.

"As part of our commitment to achieving the best possible surface for competitors to race on, the exercise was a great success," said Rockingham chief executive David Grace. Morrison's site boss Gordon Calder echoed his sentiments: "I'm delighted, it did everything we wanted it to do before we start laying the wearing (top) course in mid-March."

Smith, who has extensive oval-racing experience from the Indy Lights Championship in the USA, was complimentary. "There are two or three minor compressions to smooth out in turn one, but the racing line is smooth. In fact, this circuit is already a lot less bumpy than some I've raced on."

The test - yet another milestone in the development of Britain's first purpose-built banked motor racing circuit since Brooklands almost a century ago - was attended by more than 30 journalists representing the construction industry's press, and by two specialist film crews.

Lap speeds will rise dramatically by the time the ISSC series visits in September. "I would expect these cars to lap around 34.5 seconds (an average of 156mph) when they are dialled in to the track, ambient temperatures are higher and the final surface is prepared," said Smith.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Guy Smith