BSB in Spain?

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While WSB is already two rounds into the 2007 schedule and MotoGP blasts off this weekend, BSB has to wait until April 1 before the first round at Brands Hatch.

But things have been just as hectic as pre-season testing started in earnest last week in Spain. HM Plant Honda, Rizla Suzuki, Airwaves Ducati, Team NB Suzuki spent three days at Almeria, then everyone, except Airwaves, went to Guadix for another three day test. MSS Discovery Kawasaki were at Guadix for three days while their rivals were at Almeria.

The 4.0kms Almeria is a very demanding track – if a little dog-eared around the edges and in need of some tlc. While it has two big straights, the majority of the course is a series of long, fast corners, requiring some pretty dramatic changes of directions.

BSB race boss Stuart Higgs flew out to check on the progress of the teams  last week and was really taken with the layout, although we both agreed, some of the run-off is questionable. Not just in terms of distance from the edge of the track, but also in terms of the material used. Some of it looks more like hardcore than the FIM-standard gravel!

Even so, there was a lot of talk about among teams and riders whether it might be possible to do a BSB pre-season launch at the track – or even a BSB round. Not sure what WSB promoters FG Sport would think if BSB started venturing into Europe though!

If Higgsy thought Almeria was good he should have stayed on to visit Guadix, an hour or so down the road from Almeria and next stop on the schedule for the top BSB teams.

Now this is one of the coolest tracks I’ve been too.  The 3kms layout, nestling in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, offers a bit of everything: a series of flip-flop esses, long hanging sweepers, total commitment third gear turns, blind apexes, a Mallory-style tight hairpin. It’s relatively safe (safer than some BSB tracks for sure!) with good run-off and decent gravel traps. It’s also just been resurfaced and the whole place looks like someone’s just finished going around the place with the paint-pot. It’s bloody immaculate.

The paddock is tiny and there’s not many garages but that’s the next phase of development and when it’s finished it would be simply awesome to see a BSB race there, maybe as the feature event supporting a regional Spanish meeting.
Guadix is owned by Brit Clive Greenhalgh. A former car racer, he’s been running the place for the past five years. But since he bought it outright 18 months ago he’s invested a around £700,000 improving the venue and has built a neat supermoto course down the bottom end of the circuit and invited some of the top Brits there to test it!

But he’s far from finished. In addition to increasing the paddock space and garages, he’s aiming to build new toilet blocks with showers, a medical centre and improve the rather basic spectator areas.

Currently the track hosts four bike and two car meetings per year but it’s licensed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round.  With the new pit facilities Clive’s planning it will be possible to run 24 hour races. But his main business comes from testing and, at 3,000 Euros for exclusive use per day, it’s pretty good value for money and the demanding nature of the track isn’t just attracting BSB teams. Some of the world’s leading race car teams are now using the venue for testing.
Clive said: “The trick is balancing the costs of development against keeping the rental value at a sensible price.”

Inevitably, talk during the test centred on the possibility of using the track for a BSB meeting and Clive is keen.

“I would be more than keen to discuss the possibility of hosting a British superbike race here,” said Clive.
Over to you Mr Higgs.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin