Thruxton begins Church alterations after 2014 BTCC crashes

The British Automobile and Racing Club has begun alterations at Thruxton's Church corner at Thruxton, following accidents that occurred at its British Touring Car Championship meeting in 2014

Thruxton bosses initiated an investigation shortly after three crashes during a BTCC meeting three years ago where Ollie Jackson and Simon Belcher both hit trees, while Nick Foster also crashed at the same corner.

The circuit received planning permission to alter the Church run-off in August 2016 and has instigated work that should be complete by the end of April this year.

It is understood that the corner itself will remain unchanged; the work is being done to fill a dip in the ground in the run-off.

Further planning permission is being sought to extend the run-off by 20 metres, with this work scheduled to take place in the 2017/18 offseason.

Thruxton's early season activities have been affected, with the traditional pre-season test moved back until April 20/21.

According to Thruxton Group managing director Bill Coombs, the changes are voluntary with the aim of improving safety at the track.

"We made it very clear when initial discussions took place that nobody had any desire to alter the corner or dilute the challenge of Church," said Coombs.

"But at the same time, it was evident that we needed to do some work on the run-off area and barriers at the critical point where those three drivers went off [in 2014].

"I must stress that all three were unusual accidents in that it is not somewhere that competitors frequently leave the track, and there has never been any issue with the licensing authorities regarding Church - the changes are entirely voluntary and we have liaised closely with the FIA, MSA, MCRCB and ACU throughout.

"It is a huge project, but the bottom line is that once the work is complete, Church will still be the same corner and the same phenomenal experience for both drivers and riders - on a personal level, I've driven through there in my old Tyrrell at 155mph, and I would never want to change it.

"Church is such an iconic name in British motorsport and that will continue to be the case.

"We have preserved its unique DNA while making it even safer than it already was - and that can only be good news for competitors, marshals and spectators alike."

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