|Location||Carmarthenshire, United Kingdom|
|Major events||British Drift Championship
British Rallycross Championship
British Truck Racing Championship
British Formula 3 Championship (1992–1999)
British Touring Car Championship (1992–1993)
FIA European Rallycross Championship (1997–1998)
British Superbike Championship (1990 & 1994)
|Length||2.348 km (1.456 mi)|
|Lap record||0:50.079 ( Brian Smith, Fortec Motorsport, 1997, British F3)|
Pembrey Circuit is a racing circuit outside Pembrey village, South Wales. It is deemed to be the home of Welsh motorsport, providing racing for cars, motorcycles, karts and trucks. The circuit's facilities have also been used for a single venue rally.
The stimulus for the creation of a racing circuit at Pembrey was the closure of the motor racing facility at Llandow near Cardiff. In 1981 the Welsh Race Drivers' Association (WRDA) was formed with the expressed intention of developing a new race circuit in Wales. At the same time the former RAF airfield at Pembrey, which had been used a chicken farm, was acquired by Llanelli Borough Council. Following a representation by the WRDA the decision was taken to construct a racing circuit at the venue. The first race meeting was held on 21 May 1989, and the winner of the first race at the circuit was Nigel Petch in an MGB. In 1990 the BARC signed a 50-year lease to operate the circuit on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council.
The circuit is also popular for testing, due to its varied corners and its secluded location. Formula One teams have tested at the circuit in the past including McLaren and their drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s. Arrows, Benetton, Jordan and Williams have all tested at Pembrey in the early 1990s with BAR being the last Formula One team to test at Pembrey in 1998. The Seat and VX Racing BTCC teams have also recently tested there as has Nigel Mansell in a GP Masters car. These cars are likely to have set times far faster than the official lap record, However, convention suggests that lap record is the fastest lap set under racing conditions. Therefore, that honour goes to Argentine Formula 3 driver, Brian Smith, who drove a Dallara F397 HKS Mitsubishi.
In Recent seasons the circuit has been a popular venue for GT and F3 teams to test at due to the less stringent noise restrictions in place at other British circuits.
The circuit has two different sections, an all tarmac race circuit and a rally cross circuit utilizing some of the race circuit with an addition off-road surface. The circuit is operated by the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) under the terms of a 50-year lease from Carmarthenshire County Council. A third configuration was also used in 1996, which was that of a short oval. This followed the race circuit from the Start/Finish straight, through the first two corners of the track, before turning left at the third corner and returning to the Start/Finish straight.
The circuit has hosted the British Touring Car Championship twice, in 1992 and 1993 at which time the championship was the most popular motorsport series in the UK outside Formula One. Formula 3 races have also been run at Pembrey Circuit. Also, Pembrey twice hosted the European Rallycross Championship in 1997 and 1998. Top-level Superbike racing has also been hosted at Pembrey, in 1990 and 1994.
Today the circuit does not host such high-prestige events. The facilities currently at the circuit are no longer suitable for hosting such events and the circuit would need some investment in order to get back onto the BTCC and F3 calendars. Currently the circuit's owners are spending money improving their other circuits including Mallory Park and Thruxton.
However, over the winter of 2005/06 a new pit lane was constructed. Highlights on the current calendar (2013) include a round of the British Rallycross Championship and two rounds of the British Truck Racing Championship, organized by the BTRA. The circuit serves as the main venue for the Welsh Sports and Saloon Car Championship, British Motorcycle Racing Club, the British Drift Championship and two single venue rallys held in February and October amongst others.
Prost vs. Senna – Pembrey Folklore
Following an incident at the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, the Alain Prost/Ayrton Senna war began to build up speed after the Frenchman said that McLaren had a pre-race agreement that whoever led into the first turn should stay there, which was ironically suggested by Senna. In Prost's view, Senna had broken this agreement by passing him partway round the first lap after the restart. The following week McLaren were testing at Pembrey, and Ron Dennis (team principal) summoned both drivers to attend, as he was determined to re-establish law and order. Senna was refusing to apologise, and Jo Ramírez even heard that “he’d apparently said that the deal had been not to actually passed Prost by slipstreaming before that the move was allowable!” He really only apologised because of the pressure under which Dennis put him at Pembrey, and for the good of the team but he wasn’t happy it. The rest they say is history.
Major race results
British Formula Three Championship
British Touring Car Championship
|1993||June 27||Joachim Winkelhock||BMW 318i||BMW Motorsport Team|
|1992||August 9||Tim Harvey||BMW 318is||M Team Shell Racing|
European Rallycross Championship
|1998||June 28||Division 1||Per Eklund||Saab 900 T16 4x4|
|Division 2||no starters present|
|1400 Cup||Jean-Michel Laurant||Peugeot 1066 XSi|
|1997||June 15||Division 1||Ludvig Hunsbedt||Ford Escort RS2000 T16 4x4|
|Division 2||Elvind Opland||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3|
|1400 Cup||Jean-Michel Laurant||Peugeot 106 XSi|
British Superbike Championship
|1994||1994 HEAT TT Superbike Supercup Rd.13||Ian Simpson||588cc Norton RFI 588|
|1994 HEAT TT Superbike Supercup Rd.14||Ian Simpson||588cc Norton RFI 588|
|1990||1990 Shell Supercup/ACU British Championship, 750cc TT F1 Rd.3||Terry Rymer||750cc Yamaha OW-01|
- Tom Rubython, “The Life of Senna" (BusinessF1 Books, ISBN 0-9546857-3-3, 2006)
- Jo Ramírez, “Memoirs of a Racing Man" (Haynes Publishing, ISBN 1 84425 238 8, 2005)
- Malcolm Folley, “Senna versus Prost" (Arrow Books, ISBN 978-0-0995-2809-8, 2010)