Welcome to 2016, and the final installment of my top ten favourite circuits countdown. You can find numbers ten to seven here, and six to four here in case you missed the first two parts of the countdown. As we wait to ring in the first laps of the new V8SC season in March, below you can find my top three favourite circuits.
3. Spa Francorchamps, Stavelot – Belgium
No list of the worlds greatest race circuits would be complete without the mighty Spa. From the roller coaster of Eau Rouge, to the sprint down the Kemmel Straight and the high speed commitment of Pouhon and Blanchimont, Spa throws everything at can at both car and driver. Frequently touted as the worlds greatest race track, the lengthy 4.3 mile blast through the Ardenne Mountains hosts Formula One and multiple endurance races throughout the season and with a lap record of 1.47.263, clocks in at one of the lengthier circuits on my list.
After undergoing major layout changes and revamps since its inception in 1920, Spa still remains a high speed circuit and after hosting its first motor race in 1922, the old 15km circuit became a hotspot for fatal accidents, most notably the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix where two drivers, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey lost their lives within 15 minutes of each other.
Although dropped from the F1 in 2006, Spa has remained a staple fixture at the tail end of the European F1 season and with the circuit a favourite among drives and fans alike, it’s place in the international motorsport community looks assured for many seasons to come.
2. Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola), Imola – Italy.
Although it dropped off the F1 calendar after 2006, Imola, the home of the Tifosi undoubtedly remains one of the greatest circuits in world. Located just 50 miles east of Maranello, Imola is perhaps most famously remembered as the circuit which claimed the lives of Aryton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in that fateful 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, however its incredible atmosphere and challenging high speed second sector allow it to keep its place in my top ten list.
Every part of Imola resembles what a true race circuit should be. From the history, the passion, the layout and the Spring weekends when the sound of F1 engines filled the air in this picturesque Italian town. From its inurguaration in 1953, the 3 mile circuit hosted its first non championship F1 race a decade later, with Imola becoming a fully fledged member of the Grand Prix calendar in 1980.
Imola will always hold a special place in F1 fans hearts as the circuit which tragically took the lives of Ratzenberger at Villenueve corner and Senna at Tamburello in 1994. The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix will forever remain as an iconic moment in F1 history and the wait continues as whether this historic and poignant race circuit can grace the F1 calendar once again.
1. Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst – Australia.
One of the most iconic circuits in motorsport, Mount Panorama comes in at number one in my top ten race circuits. This 3.6 mile street circuit, home of the Bathurst 1000, the highlight of the V8 Supercars calendar remains one of the most unique circuits on the planet and the ultimate test of both man and machine. The long, flat out sprints up Mountain Straight and back down Conrod are punctuated by the legendary climb up and down the mountain leaving Mount Panorama Circuit with its well deserved nickname of Blue Hell.
Home to the fastest corner in Touring Car racing, the Chase and perhaps the most stunning views in motorsport from the top of Skyline, Mount Panorama hosted its first car race, the Australian Grand Prix back in 1938 with the first Bathurst 1000 held in the early 1960’s. The circuit has been host to many a historic event over its 70 year history, including one of the highlights of the motorsport calendar, the V8 Supercars Bathurst 1000 held each October, and few memories stand out more than Greg Murphy’s lap of the gods at the 2003 race, you can find the video below.
And in case you missed the 2011 Bathurst 1000, the showdown between Garth Tander and the king of the mountain, Craig Lowndes was another personal Bathurst highlight.
Mount Panorama has done more than enough to ensure its place in history as one of motorsport greatest ever race track, and its unique setting and atmosphere, along with that legendary climb up the mountain has helped it to number one in my list by a country mile. I hope you have enjoyed my guide through my top ten favourite race circuits and please do feel free to share your top tens in the comments below. It would be great to see how yours stack up, but for now, I’ll leave you with a guided lap of Mount Panorama by V8SC great, Greg Murphy.