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Pembrey Circuit

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Pembrey Circuit

Pembrey Circuit
Location Carmarthenshire, United Kingdom
Major events British Drift Championship
British Rallycross Championship
British Truck Racing Championship
British Formula 3 Championship (1992–1999)
British Touring Car Championship (1992–1993)
FIA European Rallycross Championship (1997–1998)
British Superbike Championship (1990 & 1994)
Length 2.348 km (1.456 mi)
Turns 8
Lap record 0:50.079 ( Brian Smith, Fortec Motorsport, 1997, British F3)

Pembrey Circuit is a motor racing circuit near Pembrey village, Carmarthenshire, Wales. It is the home of Welsh motorsport, providing racing for cars, motorcycles, karts and trucks. The circuit's facilities have also been used for a single venue rally.


  • History 1
  • Testing 2
  • Configurations 3
  • Major events 4
  • Prost vs. Senna – Pembrey Folklore 5
  • Major race results 6
    • British Formula Three Championship 6.1
    • British Touring Car Championship 6.2
    • European Rallycross Championship 6.3
    • British Superbike Championship 6.4
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The stimulus for the creation of a racing circuit at Pembrey was the closure of the motor racing facility at Llandow near Cardiff. In 1981 the Welsh Race Drivers' Association (WRDA) was formed with the expressed intention of developing a new race circuit in Wales. At the same time the former RAF airfield at Pembrey, which had been used a chicken farm, was acquired by Llanelli Borough Council. Following a representation by the WRDA the decision was taken to construct a racing circuit at the venue. The first race meeting was held on 21 May 1989, and the winner of the first race at the circuit was Nigel Petch in an MGB.

In 1990 the BARC signed a 50-year lease to operate the circuit on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council.


The circuit is popular for testing, mainly due to its variety of fast sweeping corners and tight hairpins. It is often referred to as a drivers favourite. Formula One teams have tested at the circuit including McLaren and their drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s. Arrows, Benetton, Jordan and Williams all tested at Pembrey in the early 1990s with BAR being the last Formula One team to test at Pembrey in 1998. The Seat and VX Racing BTCC teams have tested there in 2014, as has Nigel Mansell in a GP Masters car. These F1 cars are likely to have set times faster than the official lap record, and indeed locals at the circuit still talk of the sensational unofficial lap record set by Ayrton Senna. However, convention dictates that the official lap record is the fastest lap set under racing conditions, so that honour goes to Argentine Formula 3 driver, Brian Smith, who in a Dallara F397 HKS Mitsubishi set a time of 50.079 seconds in 1997.

In recent seasons the circuit has been a popular venue for GT and F3 teams to test at, not only because of the quality of the circuit, but also due to the less stringent noise restrictions in place than at other British circuits.


The circuit has two different sections, an all tarmac race circuit and a rally cross circuit utilizing some of the race circuit with an addition off-road surface. The circuit is operated by the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) under the terms of a 50-year lease from Carmarthenshire County Council. A third configuration was also used in 1996, which was that of a short oval. This followed the race circuit from the Start/Finish straight, through the first two corners of the track, before turning left at the third corner and returning to the Start/Finish straight.

Major events

The circuit has hosted the British Touring Car Championship twice, in 1992 and 1993 at which time the championship was the most popular motorsport series in the UK outside Formula One. Formula 3 races have also been run at Pembrey Circuit, and indeed many recent Formula 1 drivers including Jenson Button raced at Pembrey in their early F3 days. Pembrey twice hosted the European Rallycross Championship in 1997 and 1998. Top-level Superbike racing has also been hosted at Pembrey, in 1990 and 1994.

Over the winter of 2005/06 a new pit lane was constructed. Highlights on the current calendar (2014) include rounds of the British Welsh Sports and Saloon Car Championship, which has been particularly successful in recent years attracting a wide range of cars and averaging grids of over 20. In addition, the British Motorcycle Racing Club, the British Drift Championship and two single venue rallies, amongst others, were held in February and October.[1][2]

In 2015, a number of key events are being planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the circuit.

Prost vs. Senna – Pembrey Folklore

Following an incident at the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, the Alain Prost/Ayrton Senna war began to build up speed after the Frenchman said that McLaren had a pre-race agreement that whoever led into the first turn should stay there, which was ironically suggested by Senna. In Prost's view, Senna had broken this agreement by passing him partway round the first lap after the restart. The following week McLaren were testing at Pembrey, and Ron Dennis (team principal) summoned both drivers to attend, as he was determined to re-establish law and order. Senna was refusing to apologise, and Jo Ramírez even heard that “he’d apparently said that the deal had been not to actually pass Prost by slipstreaming before that the move was allowable!” He really only apologised because of the pressure under which Dennis put him at Pembrey, and for the good of the team but he wasn’t happy about it. The rest as they say is history.[3][4][5]

Major race results

British Formula Three Championship

Year Date Winning driver Car Team
1999 August 15 – Race 1 Kristian Kolby Dallara-Mugen-Honda F399 Fortec Motorsport
August 15 – Race 2 Jenson Button Dallara-Renault Sodemo F399 Promatecme UK
1998 August 16 – Race 1 Mario Haberfeld Dallara-Mugen-Honda F398 Paul Stewart Racing
August 16 – Race 2 Luciano Burti Dallara-Mugen-Honda F398 Paul Stewart Racing
1997 August 17 – Race 1 Brian Smith Dallara-HKS-Mitsubishi F397 Fortec Motorsport
August 17 – Race 2 Nicolas Minassian Dallara-Renault F397 Promatecme
1996 September 1 – Race 1 Nicolas Minassian Dallara-Renault F396 Promatecme
September 1 – Race 2 Jonny Kane Dallara-Mugen-Honda F396 Paul Stewart Racing
1995 September 24 – Race 1 Ralph Firman Dallara-Mugen-Honda F395 Paul Stewart Racing
September 24 – Race 2 Oliver Gavin Dallara-Vauxhall-Speiss F395 Edenbridge Racing
1994 August 21 – Race 1 Jan Magnussen Dallara-Mugen-Honda F394 Paul Stewart Racing
August 21 – Race 2 Jan Magnussen Dallara-Mugen-Honda F394 Paul Stewart Racing
1993 August 22 - Race 1 Oliver Gavin Dallara-Opel-Speiss F393 Edenbridge Racing
August 21 – Race 2 Gil de Ferran Dallara-Mugen-Honda F392 Paul Stewart Racing

British Touring Car Championship

Year Date Winning driver Car Team
1993 June 27 Joachim Winkelhock BMW 318i BMW Motorsport Team
1992 August 9 Tim Harvey BMW 318is M Team Shell Racing

European Rallycross Championship

Year Date Category Winning driver Car
1998 June 28 Division 1 Per Eklund Saab 900 T16 4x4
Division 2 no starters present
1400 Cup Jean-Michel Laurant Peugeot 1066 XSi
1997 June 15 Division 1 Ludvig Hunsbedt Ford Escort RS2000 T16 4x4
Division 2 Elvind Opland Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3
1400 Cup Jean-Michel Laurant Peugeot 106 XSi


British Superbike Championship

Year Race Rider Manufacturer
1994 1994 HEAT TT Superbike Supercup Rd.13 Ian Simpson 588cc Norton RFI 588
1994 HEAT TT Superbike Supercup Rd.14 Ian Simpson 588cc Norton RFI 588
1990 1990 Shell Supercup/ACU British Championship, 750cc TT F1 Rd.3 Terry Rymer 750cc Yamaha OW-01


See also


  1. ^ "BARC Events 2014". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "British Drift Championships". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Rubython, Tom (2006). The Life of Senna. BusinessF1 Books.  
  4. ^ Ramírez, Jo (2005). Memoirs of a Racing Man. Haynes Publishing.  
  5. ^ Folley, Malcolm (2010). Senna versus Prost. Arrow Books.  
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

  • BARC Wales
  • Welsh Racing Drivers' Association
  • BARC
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