Brands Hatch is a motor racing circuit near Swanley in Kent, England. First used as a dirt track motorcycle circuit on farmland, it hosted 12 runnings of the British Grand Prix between 1964 and 1986 and currently holds many British and international racing events. The name of the circuit may derive from the Gaelic Brondehach (bron meaning “wooded slope” and hach meaning “forest entrance”).
Brands Hatch is known for it’s demanding layouts and dramatic elevation changes, exemplified by the turn known as Paddock Hill Bend. Approached along the curving pit straightaway, “Paddock” feature a blind, uphill approach to an off-camber apex beyond the crest of the hill. Next, the road plunges downhill then climbs abruptly to Druids Bend before diving down through Graham Hill Bend to Cooper Straight…and that’s just the first half mile.
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Brands Hatch offers two layout configurations: the shorter “Indy” layout (1.198 miles), with six turns (pictured right), is located entirely within a natural amphitheatre offering spectators views of almost all of the shorter configuration from wherever they watch. The longer “Grand Prix” layout (2.301 miles) with nine turns (pictured left), played host to some spectacular Formula One racing over the years.
The full Grand Prix circuit begins on the Brabham Straight, an off-camber, slightly curved stretch, before plunging into the right-hander at Paddock Hill Bend. Despite the difficulty of the curve, due to the straight that precedes it, it is one of the track’s few overtaking spots. The next corner, Druids, is a hairpin bend, negotiated after an uphill braking zone at Hailwood Hill. The track then curves around the south bank spectator area into the downhill, off-camber Graham Hill Bend, and another, slightly bent stretch at the Cooper Straight, which runs parallel to the pit lane. After the straight, the circuit climbs uphill though the decreasing-radius Surtees turn, before moving onto the back straight where the track’s top speeds can be reached. The most significant elevation changes on the circuit occur here at Pilgrim’s Drop and Hawthorn Hill, which leads into Hawthorn Bend. The track then loops around the woodland with a series of mid-speed corners, most notably the dip at Westfield and the blind Sheene curve. The track then emerges from the woods at Clearways and rejoins the ‘Indy’ circuit for Clark Curve with its uphill off-camber approach to the pit straight and the start/finish line.
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