The last time we ran Performance Car of The Year at Anglesey was in 2004. Back then the circuit was still based around the old service roads of this former artillery base. Shortly after, things came to a head, as press officer Andrew Hughes explains: ‘It needed development and we’d reached the limit of where we could go with the previous layout. It also needed resurfacing, which is costly anyway, so we thought why not do it all and reinvent the track.’
In total £4.2 million has been invested in the new layout that, at 12 metres across, is three metres wider than before. The Welsh European Funding Office stumped up £1.3 million, and the remainder came from the Bodorgan estate – Anglesey forming part of a 14,500-acre chunk of land that’s been in the same family since the Battle of Bosworth, 1485.
Andy Franklin – CAR’s art guru – wasn’t around for the big bust-up, but he did drive the track during our 2004 shoot and barely recognised the place. ‘The pits are still familiar and I recognised the old start-finish straight down from the Hairpin and School, the fast right-hander. But the old layout was like a learner circuit in comparison. The new track’s wider and smoother, so it’s faster and it feels scarier too, more challenging. It’d be great to see a BTCC race here – it’d be amazing.’
For 2008, the CAR team descended en masse with 29 cars for four days. We used two circuit layouts: SEAT touring car ace Darren Turner set the times on the National circuit, while the Club circuit was used for what’s known in the trade as ‘dicking about’ – many of the lairiest action shots you see in the mag and on the CAR Online videos were taken at The Banking and at Church, the former being a slow second gear sideways fest, the latter being a high-speed third or, if we were feeling lucky, fourth gear powerslide-a-thon.
Turner did one warm-up lap, then came out of the Hairpin full bore to set his timed lap. It’s a long, long straight to School. The Nissan GT-R was initially kissing its 112mph limiter, but the rocker switch fitted by Nissan UK allowed us to turn it off – though it only shaved 0.3sec off the lap time. School, a double-apex right-hander, feels epically big and the sense of space and potential speed you can carry here is initially disconcerting.
From there it’s a big stop into a blind crest, then hard left and a flick into Rocket – a late apex right that’s tough to get right. This circuit is full of elevation changes, and you’re now at the highest point. Then it’s hard on the brakes for Peel, a right-hander with little run-off that’s sharper than it first looks. The Mercedes C63 liked to smoke its rear rubber all the way through here and over the blind drop that falls into the left-hander Seaman’s – a proper test of nerve as late braking on this gradient really unsettles the car. Get it right and you’ll have a good run down Tom Pryce Straight before, once again, late braking, taking a chunk out of the apex and stamping on the gas. In Turner's hands only one car dipped under the 1min barrier, and that was the Gumpert Apollo.
All in, a decent track has now become exceptional. For more info, take a look at www.angleseycircuit.com.
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