Over the last few months, Phil Davies, Pembrey’s Circuit Manager and a six-strong team have made substantial alterations to the track, supported by an investment of over £300,000 from the BARC. The first major modifications since its launch in 1989, these changes make Pembrey more demanding for drivers, adding in many of the technical challenges found at other international circuits.
Another benefit is that Pembrey now offers two configurations. Round 6 of the 2017 BARC SBD Speed Championship will feature Layout 1, the original circuit, and Round 7, Layout 2, which incorporates the modifications. As Clive hasn’t driven the new circuit yet, this edition of Clive’s Drives is based on Layout 1.
It may be a journey away, but Pembrey Circuit quietly holds test sessions for many a GP1, GP2, GP3 and GT competitor, putting it firmly on the major league motor sport map for both testing and competition. So, any misconceptions about this being a lonely, little used venue can be firmly dispelled!
We will start out of the pit lane exit on concrete, so you will find traction is limited until you hit the circuit proper. Moving across to the left of the track, you will approach Hatchets Hairpin. I try to use the start of the Armco on the right as my braking point, but this will vary according to the power, weight and brakes on your own vehicle. It’s not quite one hundred and eighty degrees, but let yourself drift to the left on exit to line up for the right-handed Spitfires.
Not quite a ninety-degree right, your exit here is critical and you should move back to the right for the upcoming Dibeni bend as soon as possible. Once described by Mark Hales as the most difficult bend in UK motor sport, it is certainly tricky. It needs practice, but in my own aero endowed car, I stay on the outside all the way around until I reach the paddock entrance, then move left to take a very late apex. However, you may find taking an earlier apex is both more comfortable and suitable for your particular car.
You will now need to work your way to the left hand side of the track for the upcoming quick right. Do so sensitively. Your car will be loaded-up from the left-handed Dibeni and any direction change should be done with a light touch. You can run over the flattish, right-handed apex kerb and let the car naturally drift left. This will set you up nicely for Brooklands Hairpin. Don’t leave your braking too late, as its critical here to get a good exit onto a fast part of the track.
The right-handed Woodlands Kink is flat in an aero car, but will require a lift in most others. You will then approach the right-handed Honda Curve. It’s a little quicker than it may seem, so turn in and try to look for the drain cover on the right near the barrier, which you should aim to run over.
As you exit, take care to keep the car under control. It’s bumpy on exit and you should try to avoid running wide onto the grass. As usual, you wouldn’t be pioneering anything here, its all been done before. If it happens, my advice is to hit the brakes and stay on them until it stops!
Then it’s full throttle along Cowles Straight for another lap, adjusting your braking distances for Hatchets this time, as you’ll be going much faster!