Lydden Hill Race Circuit

Lydden Hill Race Circuit (formerly known as Lydden Circuit) is a motorsport venue in Denton with Wootton, about half-way between Canterbury and Dover in Kent, England. The mile-long circuit is mainly used for Rallycross, Drift, Saloon and Sports car racing as well as Motorcycle racing.

Racing circuit near Canterbury in Kent, England

This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. (May 2012)
Lydden Hill Race Circuit
Location Wootton, Kent, United Kingdom
Major events FIA World Rallycross Championship, FIA European Rallycross Championship, MSA British Rallycross Championship
Length 1.000 or 0.870 [Rallycross only] mi (1.609 or 1.400 [Rallycross only] km)
Turns 4
Race lap record 38.3 (Rob Cox, Lola LC88, 1989)

It is the shortest road racing circuit in the United Kingdom. The track was previously owned by the McLaren Group and is one of two motor racing circuits in the county of Kent, along with Brands Hatch.

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View of Dover Slope and Devils Elbow on Lydden Hill Race Circuit

Lydden was founded in 1955 by Bill Chesson with the help of the Astra Motor Club. From 1957, they promoted stock-car racing and grass-track racing for motorcycles – the land on which this took place was owned by Barry Skinner, who sold it to Chesson. By 1962, Chesson wanted to progress and laid a tarmac track in order to promote motor and motorcycle road racing. The original plan was for a 1-mile circuit but this scheme had to be put on hold when the tarmac ran out at what is known as the Devil’s Elbow; the result was the short circuit, which is sometimes used by Legends and Hot Rods.[citation needed]

In 1965, tarmac asphalt was laid for hosting car racing up to Formula Three. Lydden became extremely popular, to the point that, in 1967, a meeting featuring Formula Three was televised and included up and coming drivers such as Andy Sutcliffe, Roger Williamson and Tom Walkinshaw.

On 4 February 1967, the sport of Rallycross was born at Lydden, thought up by TV producer Robert Reed (for ITV) and race organiser Bud Smith (750 Motor Club – Tunbridge Wells Centre) in co-operation with Chesson. Combining tarmac and non-tarmac elements, the inaugural race was won by Vic Elford in a Porsche 911. Since 1973, Lydden Circuit has seen rounds of Embassy/ERA European Rallycross Championships and FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers, the first 23 (till 1996) all organised by the Thames Estuary Automobile Club (TEAC). To this day, Lydden, as the so-called “Home of Rallycross”, still holds British Rallycross Championship racing, especially with its popular Easter Monday meeting.

On 9 September 1968, then-unknown English driver James Hunt recorded his first race win driving a Russell-Alexis Mk14 Formula Ford car. Hunt would return on 5 May 1969, this time driving a Motor Racing Enterprises entered Merlyn Mk11A, and recorded his second ever win.[citation needed]

By 1986, the RACMSA was pressurising Bill Chesson to erect Armco barriers, but he steadfastly refused to do so, on the grounds that they would be dangerous to the motorcycle-racing fraternity. When RAC MAS threatened to refuse him a new circuit permit, and fearing that his two sons, well known at Lydden as successful racers, would fall out running the track once Bill died, he put it up for sale. Tom Bissett bought the circuit for the asking price of well over a million pounds.

From 2008 the new lease holder was the Waste Recycling Consultant, MSA British Rallycross Champion (2002, 2005, 2009, 2010) and FIA European Rallycross Championship runner-up (1992) Pat Doran. Doran, from Thorverton in Devon, is planning several improvements for the venue as well as an extension of the racing programme (for cars and bikes alike) and his daughter, Amy Doran, has been appointed as director for day-to-day running of the circuit.[1][2][3][4]

On 24–25 May 2014, Lydden Hill played host to the newly formed FIA World Rallycross Championship. The event was run under similar principles to the FIA European Rallycross Championship in the previous few years, but with the likes of Petter Solberg and Liam Doran being notable drivers competing in the championship, as well as Andrew Jordan and Tanner Foust as the famous “wildcard” entries, record crowds were predicted for the weekend at the end of May.

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