Those who attended the 2012 World Time Attack Challenge would have seen the final stages of the upgrade that saw the Eastern Creek International Raceway turn into the Sydney Motorsport Park. While the track work has been completed in time for WTAC, the presence of heavy machinery and building materials showed that there was still plenty of work to do.
To put all this in context, we need to take a short trip down the memory lane to 2010. The loss of Oran Park was felt keenly amongst the motorsport community, leaving just one permanent racetrack in Sydney – the GP circuit at Eastern Creek International Raceway. The Creek was usually fully booked – and did not share Oran Park’s twin-track layout, which enabled the full circuit to be split into two tracks, a North and South track, to allow more groups, clubs and events to participate in motorsport.
With demand for track time at an all-time high, and The Creek in desperate need of a mid-life makeover, a massive rebranding and renovation plan was undertaken in a joint partnership between the NSW state government, and official venue managers the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club (ARDC).
What followed was a 12 month, $12million transformation of its circuits, pit facilities and corporate suites, to enable the Park to not only hold not just big events, but multiple events and meets at once. This is what transformed Eastern Creek International Raceway into Sydney Motorsport Park.
Two time WTAC Champion, “Tarzan” Yamada poses in front of the newly refurbished control tower in 2012. The track was hailed as faster and smoother by all competitors. Unfortunately for Tarzan, it was also the year in which he lost the championship to the new WTAC King – Nemo Evo.
The Sydney Motorsport Park now offers four separate track configurations, including an 830m extension of the existing Grand Prix circuit, now the 4.5Km Brabham Circuit, along with a 2.8km North GP layout and 1.9km South GP configuration. Each of the circuits has a distinct character, and each offers a unique selection of challenges to competitors.
The first stage of the works began in June 2011 with the construction of link road A between turn four and the turn 15 hairpin, creating the 2.8km North GP layout. The North GP utilises the main straight, turns one, two, three, four A and B (the link road), 16, 17 and 18, and offers a combination of fast flowing sections and tight technical tests.
Work them moved to the southern section of the facility, and the construction of an seven-corner, 830m extension to the circuit, and the removal of the turn six ‘kink’. This work, in addition to the construction of link road B, between the entry to the turn 15 hairpin and exit of turn four, created the 1.9km South GP layout. It offers a tighter, more complex challenge with significant changes in topography, blind crests and hairpins.
A brand new pit lane complex was constructed adjacent to turns four and five, which services the South GP track. This enables the North GP and South GP layouts to operate simultaneously during race meetings, and two meets can be easily held on the one day.
The new sections of track also offers some fantastic vantage points for spectators, particularly for Drifting on the South Circuit’s twisting uphill sections.
Amid all of these changes, the original GP Circuit is still the original 3.9km layout which first opened to traffic in November 1990 – aside from the deletion of the turn six kink. This is the circuit that has seen such events as 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix, A1GP, V8 Supercars, the Winfield Triple Challenge of the early 1990s, and , of course, the World Time Attack Challenge.
All the records from these great battles are still standing, and still relevant. This is why we have decided to stay with the GP Circuit for the 2013 World Time Attack Challenge.
As WTAC is a double-header event, the International Drift Challenge will get its own separate track. The new South Circuit will provide the drift competitors with their own pits, control tower and the drift fans with better viewing spots and easier access.
Put all these things together and what you end up with is a venue that’s better for the competitors and better for the spectators. But don’t take our word for it, you really need to check it out for yourself. See you there!