Croft has it all: flat-out sweepers, first-gear hairpins and nadgery chicanes.
Here’s a circuit guide through the eyes of reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title-holder Colin Turkington, who qualified on pole position at Croft in 2014 and is gunning for more success this year in his Team BMR Volkswagen CC.
“At the end of the lap before I gun for pole, as I launch off the last hairpin, I take a different line.
“I will take a later apex because that then allows me to open up the steering and get on the throttle a fraction earlier, meaning I am able to carry more speed over the start-finish line. I do that at most circuits, but Croft is the one where there is the most to gain.
“There is not too much work to do in turns one and two. The first corner is pretty straightforward and I make a beeline to get as close to the stack of tyres on the inside of turn two. The second corner is a very long one, but I am already thinking about the chicane, turn three. The exit of this corner is crucial because it leads on to the back straight and I want to take as much pace as I can on to that.
“It isn’t really a chicane, it is a left-hander bordered by a stack of tyres. In touring cars you always use a lot of kerb, but for qualifying I would use even more. It does upset the car a bit but when I have new tyres on it is just about okay. You have to hang on tightly.
“Getting down to the fourth turn, Tower, I will know that this is a crucial corner. It is a long, tight right-hander and I am pretty much flat out for half a mile after that, so I absolutely have to get it right. The clipping point is a long way around the corner as I try and take the load out of the steering on the exit, allowing me to get on the power as early as possible.
“From there, it is on to the ultra-fast Jim Clark Esses. There are tyre stacks on the apex of the left- and right-handed elements. All drivers would prefer if the tyres weren’t there. I know they are put there to stop people cutting the corner, but the penalty for getting it wrong is huge.
“In a left-hand-drive car like the BMW I was in last year, it is always easier to judge the left-hand corners as opposed to the right – particularly when you are playing chicken with a tyre stack! It is all about commitment and bravery, and you will be rewarded if you are courageous.
“Then I go down to Barcroft, which is a small lift. It is a fast corner, but I need to lift because then I am immediately on the brake for Sunny In and Sunny Out. I will try to brake in a straight line, but the rear axle goes light and it isn’t always easy because Sunny In comes up so fast.
“On the video of last year’s lap, you can see that I get a touch too much kerb on the inside and you can hear a ‘thump’ as the car bottoms out on the concrete, which sends me slightly sideways. I am no Joe Hart, but that was a good save…