Silverstone Circuit: Racing History

Silverstone History

Silverstone was opened as a World War Two airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged.

On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, Silverstone’s first event took place, the RAC Grand Prix.

In 1951, the British Racing Drivers’ Clubtook over the lease from the RAC and set about turning the temporary airfield track into something more permanent. Much work was done at circuits all round the country to improvesafety during the 1960s.

The winter of 1974 / 1975 saw extensive work at the circuit. In addition to the construction of a new pits complex with 44 garages – opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The famous Silverstone Grand Prix track underwent major revisions for the 1991 F1 British Grand Prix. It remained one of the fastest tracks on the F1 calendar.

Further track revisions to reduce speeds came in June 1994 and by 2003 Silverstone had opened its gates to a vastly improved road infrastructure.

Back in 1950 Silverstone was the birthplace of today’s FIA Formula One World Championship and remains one of the world’s most historic tracks.

2010 is an extremely important year for the newly revamp racing circuit with Formula One being re-joined by both MotoGP and World Superbikes on the calendar.

Richard Phillips (Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited) says: "This new Grand Prix track combined with the redevelopment of Stowe Circuit and facilities, that was also completed this year, are a very exciting part of our overall redevelopment plan."

"Work has already started on a new pit and paddock complex that will be completed in 2011 and we feel we are well on the way to being one of the best motor sport facilities in the world for competitors, organisers and spectators alike."

"At the same time the redevelopment will help us to diversify our offering in the areas of leisure, education and creating a technological hub for motor sport that will ensure that Silverstone remains a vibrant and healthy business for many years to come."

It is exciting that top-level motorcycle racing has returned to this stunning new circuit in 2010. Here is a quick look back at the last top-level Superbike races at the old Silverstone.

2007 – After Donington, another race of the 2007 championship on British soil was marred by the weather: in Silverstone the rain was heavy on Sunday and the first race was almost processional as the riders tried to avoid costly mistakes.

Bayliss, Haga and Corser ran in formation in the second part of the race, without any major episodes among them, and finished in that order. All attention however was on Toseland: James fell in the early stages and broke a pipe in his cooling system.

He climbed back on the bike and was able to finish eighth, with practically no coolant in his radiators! Race two was cancelled due to the extremely poor weather conditions.

2006 – At Silverstone heavy rain was present on Saturday and pole position went to local boy Tommy Hill. The races were dry and the usual suspects were out in front: Haga took the lead followed by Bayliss, Walker, and Xaus.

Ruben passed Walker on the third lap, and after three laps put his 999F05 Ducati in front of the works 999F06 of Bayliss for second place. Xaus was able to stay in second place until lap thirteen, where the absence of a sophisticated traction control unit started to tell on the tyres and Bayliss went past him.

Xaus had to slow his pace, while Bayliss was free to catch up on Haga, passed him on lap nineteen and went for the win in front of the Japanese rider.

A bad race for Corser, who fell on the opening laps. In race 2 it was down to Haga and Bayliss once again, with the Japanese rider all over the back of Troy’s exhausts. At one point Bayliss let past Haga and studied him for an entire lap.

On the following lap he went back in the lead and quickly pulled out a good gap between him and the Yamaha rider who was able to maintain a good pace, but not enough to prevent another Bayliss double.

2005 – The Ducati factory team was having a low-key season, but their resurgence came in the European round at Silverstone. Despite being only third and seventh on the grid, Laconi and Toseland managed to win respectively the first and second race.

In race 1 Corser tried to pull away, chased by Haga, but once Laconi was able to dispose of Walker it was clear that he was a force to be reckoned with. He recorded the fastest lap on lap 9 and caught the leaders on lap 11. Haga didn’t resist long and had to concede second place on the following lap, then it was Corser’s turn.

The Australian fought fiercely and Laconi was able to conquer first place for good only on lap 16. In the meantime Toseland had snatched third place while Kagayama fell and Haga was forced to slow down and eventually retire in the final laps with fuel pump failure.

In race 2 the story was exactly the same, with the only change being that it was the Toseland who did what Laconi had done in race 1. The Corser-Haga duel lasted for the first eleven laps, but then Toseland stormed in, caught them by lap 12 and with a couple of passes on laps 16 and 17 took the lead, leaving Corser in second and Haga in third.