- Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Name = Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Location = Phillip Island,
MotoGP, SBK, V8 Supercar, Superkart
Layout1 = Modern
Length_km = 4.445
Length_mi = 2.762
Turns = 12
Surface = Asphalt
Record_time = 1:24.221
Record_driver = Simon Wills
Record_team = Reynard 94D
Record_year = 2000
Layout2 = Original (1928-1935)
Surface2 = Gravel
Length_km2 = 10.6
Length_mi2 = 6.5
Turns2 = 4
Record_time2 = 4:49.4
Record_driver2 = Bill Thompson
Record_team2 = Bugatti Type 37A
Record_year2 = 1932
The first races on Phillip Island took place in 1928 with the running of the 100 Miles Road Race, an event which has since become known as the first Australian Grand Prix. It used, as was traditional at the time, a high speed rectangle of local closed-off public roads with four identical right hand corners. The course length varied, with the car course approximately 6 miles per lap, to motorcycle racing of approx. convert|10|mi|km.
As speeds grew, there was a need for a safe circuit. The original Phillip Island road circuit, based around the airfield, was a dusty trek up and down hills and through tough tight corners. It survived from the late 1920s to 1935.
In 1951, a group of six local businessmen decided to build a new track. About 2 km away from the original circuit, it still bears the corner name signs of the original circuit. As the piece of available land was on the edge of the coast, the track is known for its steep grades - the highest 57metres - which caused cost overruns and delays in track opening. The new track hosted its first race in 1956, but after extensive damage from the 1962 Armstrong 500, the circuit could not afford repairs and the race moved to Bathurst.
The circuit reopened in 1966 but again, due to its testing terrain, the circuit required much maintenance and slowly declined through the 1970s. It was farmed by its owners while closed and was then sold in 1985 in preparation for reopening, but did not do so until 1989 after agreement on a long term lease and rebuild agreement. The World Motorcycle Championship gave the circuit a grand re-opening in 1989 with a brilliant race long dice in the 500 cc division between
Wayne Gardner, Wayne Rainey, Christian Sarronand Kevin Magee. The race was won by Gardner to the delight of the huge crowd. It hosted its first World Superbike race in 1990. Mathew Close won the first race in 1990 by 11.31 sec. The Australian Touring Car Championshipalso returned in 1990 with Dick Johnson winning.
In 2006 and 2007, Phillip Island hosted the grand finale of the
V8 SupercarsChampionship Series, as well as a regular MotoGPand Superbikeround.
A multi-million dollar re-development was done late 2006, completed by the
LinfoxGroup, who now own the track. The new facilities will also feature a kartingcircuit.
Future Formula One Grand Prix
Phillip Island was previously the host of the Australian Grand Prix from 1926 to 1936 and since the upgrades in the late 1980's, there has been speculation that the circuit would host a race of the Formula One Championship. Recent discussions suggest that this could happen as soon as 2011 or sometime within that decade. [http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/63860] Director of the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Andrew Fox, stated that they are interested in hosting a
Formula OneGrand Prix in the future. Although he admitted that there is a lot to be done to make the track suitable for Formula One racing, he stated that they are willing to make the investments for this. [http://blogger.xs4all.nl/daisy/archive/2007/11/09/319830.aspx]
Alternating Circuits VS Relocation
An arrangement simmilar to the
Japanese Grand Prix, in which the Suzuka and Fuji circuits alternate each year, could be made where the Phillip Island and Albert Parkcircuits could alternate. Another arrangement could involve relocating the Australian Grand Prix to Phillip Island circuit every year; facilities at Albert Park would not be wasted as most of them are temporary structures and must be errected and disassembled each year.
Transport & Costs
Arrangements could be made regarding transport, in which tickets to the Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit would be coupled with tickets on the Stony Point rail line and ferry to Phillip Island allowing easy access for spectators. Transport of teams and organisation vehicles and personel is already viable as the
MotoGPand rounds of the Australian Touring Carsare held at the circuit every year with no torubles concerning transport. The Albert Park Circuit costs approximately $35m to run each year, [http://blogger.xs4all.nl/daisy/archive/2007/11/09/319830.aspx] mostly due to the temporary structures that must be errected within the park. The Phillip Island Circuit is a permanent circuit and would host permanent facilities dramatically reducing the cost.
As with Albert Park circuit, a high attendance would depend on allowing less corporate facilities, cheaper tickets to make it affordable for more people and entice families to the race. There is strong support from residents in
Melbourneand central Victoriawho are resigned to the fact that an alternating race is inevitable and will occur within the next 5 to 10 years. [http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/63860] As with the MotoGP, massive crowds would be expected to attend the race, the hills allowing good viewing even without the circuit being surrounded by grand stands. Many fans of the circuit explain that a return to the classic open and flowing circuit style would bring a refreashing new style of race back to Formula One and spectators would be eager to see it first hand.
Possible Layout Change
Some have suggested that the layout would have to be changed, however it has been made clear by many that the circuit must retain its current layout to preserve its status as the perfect hybrid motorcycle/automobile circuit. The large open, flowing turns allow high speeds in both formats and showcase excellent driving skills of motorcyclists. [http://blogger.xs4all.nl/daisy/archive/2007/11/09/319830.aspx] Whilst the tight low speed corners such as "Honda Corner" and the "Lukey Heights" downhill turn, allow for excellent passing manouvers in car racing. Another positive in using the current layout is that the open, flowing design of the circuit and large run off areas instantly alleviate many of the safety concerns raised by Formula One organisers.
"The Official 50 Race History of the Australian Grand Prix"
* [http://www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au/ Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit] official website
* [http://www.phillipislandgrandprix.com/ Circuit history]
* [http://www.v8supercar.com.au/circuits/circuitmfcts.asp?vid=118&ind=M Circuit info from the official V8 Supercar site]
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