Croft Circuit, West Ln, Dalton-on-Tees, Darlington DL2 2PL
The first records of racing at Croft date back to the 1920s, but it was after the Second World War that it became a significant motorsport venue. Racing came and went over the years but in 1997 the circuit underwent a major transformation being extended to 2.127 miles and having new pits, paddock complex, control tower and spectator areas constructed. However, noise restrictions and disputes with locals have seen activity at the circuit restricted heavily in recent years and the British Superbike Championship hasn’t returned following the 2011 season with no plans for it to return.
Take a lap of Croft…
A Lap of Croft – with Leon Haslam (2.125 miles)
Coming across the start/finish line, I’m in fourth gear and then it’s down to first for the first corner, Clervaux, which you have to brake fairly heavily for. There always seems to be a large puddle on the inside so it’s case of keeping out wide, then accelerating hard into Hawthorn bend
The entry is very fast and then it’s up a gear holding the apex into the chicane which is slightly uphill – and again it’s a tricky place, as there’s a shiny piece of tarmac on the exit. From there, it’s behind the bubble, up to fifth gear, and through the left-hand kink, where I start to brake for Tower. If it’s wet, there’s always a big gathering of water on the inside and that means you have to totally miss the apex and ride in the middle of the track, which is a little unnerving.
Then it’s back up to third gear for the Jim Clark Esses, being careful not to drift towards the outside of the circuit. I come back to second and keep the bike as upright as possible before heading up a gear and into Barcroft, which is very fast and flowing. On the brakes into Sunny and it’s a case of taking the two corners as one big sweep in the dry and as two separate corners in the wet. Hit the two apexes and drive hard over the bump on the straight which tends to pick the front wheel up and then it’s a case of thinking about the Complex.
The first corner is blind and there’s a big bump on the way in; it throws you wide and you have to really crank it over so you hit the apex just right for the second part, where it’s back down into first gear. You hold first right the way up to the Hairpin but be careful of the white lines on the exit, especially in the wet, as they can be very slippery. Then it’s back through the gearbox and over the start line for another lap.
Current Lap Records
Outright/Superbike: Ryuichi Kiyonari (1000 Honda) – 1m19.695s – 95.99mph – 12/08/07
Supersport: Sam Lowes (600 Honda) – 1m22.043s – 93.24mph – 12/09/10
Superstock 1000: Jon Kirkham (1000 Yamaha) – 1m22.914s – 14/09/08
Superstock 600: Luke Stapleford (600 Kawasaki) – 1m24.931s – 90.07mph – 12/09/10
Moto 3/125cc: Robbie Stewart (125 Honda) – 1m26.613s – 88.32mph – 12/08/07
*Croft last held a British Superbike Championship round in 2011.