Lydden Hill Race Circuit

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Lydden Hill Race Circuit
Lydden Hill Race Circuit track map.svg
Location Wootton, Kent, United Kingdom
Major events European Rallycross Championship
British Rallycross Championship
Length 1.609 or 1.400 [Rallycross only] km (1.000 or 0.870 [Rallycross only] mi)
Turns 4
Lap record 38.3 (Rob Cox, Lola LC88, 1989)

Lydden Hill Race Circuit (formerly known as Lydden Circuit) is the UK's shortest road racing circuit, wholly owned by the British automotove, formula one and technology company, McLaren Group. The mile-long circuit is located at Wootton, about half-way between Canterbury and Dover in Kent. The track is mainly used for rallycross, drift, saloon and sports car racing as well as motorcycle racing. The track, along with Brands Hatch is one of two motor racing circuits in the county of Kent.

History[edit]

View of Dover Slope and Devils Elbow on Lydden Hill Race Circuit

Lydden was founded in 1955 by Bill Chesson with the help of the Astra Motor Club. From 1957, they promoted stock-car racing and grass-track racing for motorcycles – the land on which this took place was owned by Barry Skinner, who sold it to Chesson. By 1962, Chesson wanted to progress and laid a tarmac track in order to promote motor and motorcycle road racing. The original plan was for a 1-mile circuit but this scheme had to be put on hold when the tarmac ran out at what is known as the Devil’s Elbow; the result was the short circuit, which is sometimes used by Legends and Hot Rods.[citation needed]

It wasn't until 1965 when asphalt was laid for the circuit, for hosting car racing up to Formula Three. Lydden became extremely popular to the point that in 1967, a meeting featuring Formula Three was televised and included such up and coming drivers, such as Andy Sutcliffe, Roger Williamson and one Tom Walkinshaw.

On February 4, 1967 the sport of Rallycross was born at Lydden, thought up by TV producer Robert Reed (for ITV) and race organiser Bud Smith (750 Motor Club – Tunbridge Wells Centre) in cooperation with Chesson. Combining tarmac and non-tarmac elements, the inaugural race was won by Vic Elford in a Porsche 911. Since 1973, Lydden Circuit has seen rounds of Embassy/ERA European Rallycross Championships and FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers, the first 23 (till 1996) all organised by the Thames Estuary Automobile Club (TEAC). To this day, Lydden, as the so-called "Home of Rallycross", still holds British Rallycross Championship racing, especially with its popular Easter Monday meeting.

On 9 September 1968, a then-unknown English driver recorded his first race win driving a Russell-Alexis Mk14 Formula Ford car. That driver was James Hunt. Hunt would return on 5 May 1969 this time driving a Motor Racing Enterprises entered Merlyn Mk11A, and recorded only his second ever win.

By 1986, the RAC MSA was pressurising Bill Chesson to erect Armco barriers which he steadfastly refused to do so on grounds that they would be dangerous to the motorcycle racing fratermity, and when RAC MAS threatened to refuse him a new circuit permit, he put the circuit up for sale. He didn’t actually want to get rid of it so put on it a price of something over one million pounds. Tom Bissett came up with the asking price and subsequently bought Lydden Circuit from Bill Chesson

Motorcycle racing at Lydden Hill Race Circuit

In March 1991, Mr and Mrs Blissett entered into a joint venture with McLaren. McLaren subsequently acquired the Blissett’s shares in Lydden and became sole owners. They bought the track and leased it to the British Motorcycle Racing Club (BMCRC) from 1993 on, thus allowing both cars and bikes to have full use of the track. BMCRC were based at Lydden until the end of 2007, and it formed their home track, playing host to the annual 'Lord of Lydden' and 'Sidecar burnup' races, together with a number of club motorcycle race meetings. Another piece in the history of Lydden came in 2003, when McLaren had an application turned down for Lydden to become a private testing venue.

From 2008 on the new lease holder of the circuit will be, for at least five years, the Waste Recycling Consultant, MSA British Rallycross Champion (2002, 2005, 2009, 2010) and FIA European Rallycross Championship runner-up (1992) Pat Doran. Doran, an Englishman of Irish origin from Thorverton in Devon, is planning several improvements for the venue as well as an extension of the racing programme (for cars and bikes alike) and his oldest daughter Amy Doran has been appointed as director for day-to-day running of the circuit.[1][2][3][4]

On May 24-25 2014, Lydden Hill will play host to the newly-formed FIA World Rallycross Championship. The event will be run under similar principles to the FIA European Rallycross Championship in the previous few years, but with the likes of Petter Solberg and Liam Doran being notable athletes competing in the championship, as well as Andrew Jordan and Tanner Foust as the famous "wildcard" entries, record crowds are predicted for the weekend at the end of May.

European rallycross returns[edit]

Pat Doran and his Ford Fiesta, Lydden 2006

The opening round of the 2009 FIA European Rallycross Championship (ERC) brought top flight Rallycross back to Lydden Hill. The last European Rallycross event at Lydden Hill Race Circuit was hosted way back in 1996. As all kind of things can change over a period of 12 years time, at least one thing didn't change ... After being declared winner of the 1996 European event at Lydden in the main Division, multiple champion Kenneth Hansen (Citroën C4) cruised to victory again in Division 1 on Easter Monday (13 April)

When ERC returned at the end of May 2010, Norwegian Sverre Isachsen (Ford Focus ST), celebrated his first victory in the European Championship as he beat multiple champion Kenneth Hansen (Citroën C4) and local guy Liam Doran (Citroën C4) in the Division 1 'A' final.

About 13,500 people spent Easter 2011 at Wootton, attending the opening round of the 2011 ERC. Specially for the Norwegian fans among them it has been a great weekend as the victories in all of the three racing categories went to Norway. Sverre Isachsen (Ford Focus Mk2) was on the highest step of the SuperCars podium on Monday afternoon. Before already Andreas Bakkerud (Renault Clio Mk2) and Lars Øivind Enerberg (Ford Fiesta ST RWD) did the same in the Super1600 and Touring Cars classes.

No first qualifying heats on day 1 of the opening round of the 2012 ERC as problems with the start systems made the Clerk of the Course deciding to run the first heat on Monday. Therefore the 2012 championship starts in a similar way as previous year's championship ended when at Sosnová in the Czech Republic during the final round the first heats also had to be postponed until the other day. With the absence of defending champion Sverre Isachsen the door is now open for last year's runner-up Tanner Foust (Ford Fiesta Mk7) to start the season with a victory.[5]

The opening round of the 2013 FIA European Rallycross Championship was held over the Easter holiday, at Lydden Hill, with victory going to the American Tanner Foust in his Ford Fiesta for the second year running, only after reigning ERC champion Timur Timerzyanov for dropped back with a punctured tyre.[6]

World Rallycross Championship[edit]

New for 2014, the FIA World Rallycross Championship arrives in Kent for Round Two. Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud won, after a near perfect run. Robin Larsson claimed the runner’s-up spot in his Audi A1 Supercar, with Britain’s Andrew Jordan ending the event third in front of a delighted home crowd. [7]

Rallycross track records[edit]

Current events[edit]

Major events[edit]

Local meetings[edit]

  • South East Motor Sport Enthusiasts Club (SEMSEC)
  • Tunbridge Wells Motor Club (TWMC)
  • Rochester Motor Club (RMC)
  • British Automobile Racing Club (BARC)
  • Vintage Motorcycle Racing Club (VMCC)
  • Classic Racing Motorcycle Club (CRMC)
  • Car, Bike & Drifting Trackdays

Major race results[edit]

European rallycross[edit]

Martin Schanche (N) and his Ford Escort XR3 T16 4 x 4, Lydden 1984
Year Race Driver Car
1973 ERC Rd. 5 Austria Frank Wurz VW 1302 S 2.2
ERC Rd. 7 Netherlands Jan de Rooy DAF 55 Coupé (Ford BDA engine)
1974 ERC Rd. 7 Sweden Stig Blomqvist Saab 96 V4 1.9
ERC Rd. 8 England Tom Airey BMC Mini Cooper S 1.4
1975 ERC Rd. 7 England Tom Airey BMC Mini Cooper S 1.4
1976 ERC Rd. 8 Netherlands Dick Riefel Porsche Carrera
ERC Rd. 10 England John Taylor Ford Escort RS1800 BDA
1978 ERC Rd. 8 GT Division Austria Andy Bentza Lancia Stratos
1979 ERC Rd. 8 GT Division Sweden Olle Arnesson Porsche Carrera
1980 ERC Rd. 9 GT Division Sweden Olle Arnesson Porsche 911 SC
1981 ERC Rd. 9 GT Division Finland Matti Alamäki Porsche SC Carrera
1982 ERC Rd. 8 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford Escort RS1800 Turbo
1983 ERC Rd. 8 Division 2 Sweden Rolf Nilsson Porsche SC Carrera
1984 ERC Rd. 7 Division 2 Finland Seppo Niittymäki Porsche BiTurbo 4x4
1985 ERC Rd. 7 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford Escort XR3 T16 4x4
1986 ERC Rd. 7 Division 2 Finland Seppo Niittymäki Ford Escort XR3 T16 4x4
1987 ERC Rd. 10 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford RS200 E2
1988 ERC Rd. 10 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford RS200 E2
1989 ERC Rd. 10 Division 2 Finland Matti Alamäki Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2
1990 ERC Rd. 10 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford RS200 E2
1991 ERC Rd. 1 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford RS200 E2
1992 ERC Rd. 1 Division 2 Norway Martin Schanche Ford RS200 E2
1996 ERC Rd. 6 Division 2 + Sweden Kenneth Hansen Citroën ZX T16 4x4
2009 ERC Rd. 1 Division 1 Sweden Kenneth Hansen Citroën C4 T16 4x4
2010 ERC Rd. 1 Division 1 Norway Sverre Isachsen Ford Focus ST T16 4x4
2011 ERC Rd. 1 Division 1 Norway Sverre Isachsen Ford Focus Mk2 T16 4x4
2012 ERC Rd. 1 Division 1 United States Tanner Foust Ford Fiesta Mk7 T16 4x4
2013 ERC Rd. 1 Division 1 United States Tanner Foust Ford Fiesta Mk7 T16 4x4

+ ran in conjunction with the British Rallycross Grand Prix [5][6][8]

FIA World Rallycross[edit]

Year Race Driver Car
2014 World RX Rd. 2 Norway Andreas Bakkerud Ford Fiesta ST

[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°10′38.59″N 1°11′58.69″E / 51.1773861°N 1.1996361°E / 51.1773861; 1.1996361