Circuits Of The BTCC | Knockhill

Knockhill from above, situatued on the lee side of Knock hill in the background. Image thanks to Knockhill Circuit.

One of the most exciting, popular and loved circuits on the current BTCC calendar, Knockhill Circuit in Scotland is a 1.27-mile rollercoaster. Located about six miles north of Dunfermline and 24 north of Edinburgh, the Scottish circuit has been a staple of the BTCC calendar since it first hosted the series back in 1992.

Opening in September of 1974, the nine-turn circuit was created by joining service roads which linked a mineral railway to the nearby Lethans Colliery. The Colliery worked from 1903 to 1916 and the mineral railway closed in 1951. Whilst the race circuit is built to the eastern end of the hill to which it bears its name (Knock hill) the Colliery itself was located to the north, with the railway protruding east from the Colliery down into the village of South Lethans. Pre-race track, the land was owned by sheep farmer Tom Kinnaird who is the man originally responsible for creating Knockhill circuit.

The first motorsport of any kind at Knockhill were motorcycle and rallycross races and the first motorbike race was held in September 1974 before the first four-wheel car race was held on 18th May, 1975. Knockhill’s opening car race was won by Eddie Labinjoh in an Alfa Romeo 2000GT. The circuit and South Lethans farm was purchased by Derek Butcher in 1983, and Butcher began an intense period of development at the track which included the building of the pits, paddock and viewing areas.

Knockhill Circuit from above. Image thanks to The Checkered Flag.

As well as it’s 1.27-mile international layout, Knockhill has a number of other motorsport facilities close to, and around the main race circuit. The 1-mile national circuit follows the same path as the international circuit but misses out the final hairpin. Knockhill also boasts a karting circuit, skidpan and a concrete rally stage as well as a defunct off-road course in the circuit’s infield. The British Superbike Championship is also a regular visitor to Knockhill, with the original championship first visiting in 1989.

The BTCC arrived in 1992 in a memorable, but rain-soaked affair. Colin McRae, a future Word Rally Championship winner made a guest appearance for the Prodrive BMW works team and was disqualified from the second race after an overtake on Matt Neal was deemed to be dangerous. At the same round, McRae’s BMW teammate Alain Menu also ran into strife, breaking his leg in the paddock post-qualifying and being forced to sit out the remainder of the season.

Colin McCrae at Knockhill in 1992. Image thanks to BTCC.

The RML-run semi-works Vauxhall Cavalier of the late David Leslie was the first BTCC car to secure pole position at the track, with the two 1992 races being won by Jeff Allam and Tim Harvey in a Vauxhall Cavalier and BMW M3 respectively. The BTCC continued to visit Knockhill until the end of 2002 when the deal to host the series expired. Matt Neal and Andy Priaulx were the two winners in 2002 and whilst Knockhill was absent from the 2003 calendar, it returned in 2004 after a raft of improvements were made to the circuit. Anthony Reid and Jason Plato were the two race winners on the series’ return, with Reid winning twice in his MG ZS and Plato once in the SEAT Toledo Cupra.

Anthony Reid won twice in 2004 on the BTCC”s return. Image thanks to Malcom Griffith/LAT Images.

Unusual for a race track, Knockhill’s start and finish lines are in different positions on the main straight, with the start line situated in the middle of the straight and the finish line found closer to the exit of the final hairpin. With nine corners and 37-metre total elevation change, a lap of Knockhill is a challenging rollercoaster ride and the circuit always produces fantastic racing.

A Lap Of Knockhill

The Knockhill International circuit. Image thanks to Toyota.

International Circuit

Length: 1.27 miles
Turns: 9
Hosted BTCC: 1992 – 2002 & 2004 – Present

A lap of Knockhill beings with an uphill climb over the start line into a challenging right-left sequence of Duffus Dip and Leslie’s. Duffus Dip is a downhill blind right-hander and Leslie’s, a sweeping left-hander was renamed in honour of the late David Leslie who tragically lost his life in an aircraft accident in 2008. Scotsman, a ninety-degree right-hander follows, which in turn leads into a sweeping right-hander called Butchers before the circuit dips, then rises steeply up to the Arnold Clark Chicane. Cars often go up on two wheels through the chicane before heading onto a short straight before the uphill and blind right-hander Clark’s. After Clark’s comes the long left-hander of Hislop’s which sets cars up for the uphill apex hairpin Taylor’s at the end of the lap. Taylor’s is an extremely tight hairpin and one of the best overtaking spots on the track, and a good exit is vital for the run up the pit straight.

Knockhill onboard of Jason Plato’s 2016 pole lap. Video courtesey of BTCC on YouTube.

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