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Cartagena 2016 with Circuit Moto

It seems like we’ve been having a new Euro track day company pop up on the market every 5 minutes recently, so a little while ago, in search of something new and exciting, I took a gamble and went to Cartagena, Spain with one of those new establishments, Circuit Moto. As if that wasn’t enough of a plunge, I went all in and booked the event solo. Risky? Definitely! But the idea of getting away from the early winter gloom for 3 days of open pit lane extravaganza in the Spanish sun, was too hard to resist. As all the cool kids say, you only live once ;)

The bike drop-off was scheduled on a Sunday, just a few days before the event. I was very happy to see someone actually taking working people (all of us?!) into consideration and not planning the drop-off on a workday (like all the other companies I’ve ever gone away with). That being said, from my very selfish, lone-parent perspective, it was not ideal. Unable to book childcare for the day, the reality of my first solo European trip hit me hard as I drove to the drop off point with my son in the van, trying to figure out how on Earth will I unload my bike, whilst watching my special needs son, who must be supervised at all times. I did message Nigel – the organiser of the event, explaining my situation and asking if he could possibly help me a little, but knowing just how hectic these drop-off days are, particularly for the person running the show, I wasn’t holding my breath.

As it turned out, I was worried for nothing! As soon as I arrived, Nigel helped me unload my motorbike, tyres and all the other track day essentials, offered to load it all into a stillage for me, and told me not to worry and just go home. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes, and beyond grateful!

I arrived in Cartagena the day before the event, checked into the hotel and headed straight to the track to have a snoop around. Quite a few people from the group were there too, and that’s when I met one of the instructors, Dave, who kindly invited me for a little impromptu sightseeing trip – if you ever find yourself in Cartagena, you absolutely HAVE to go and see “The Guns”! 

 

The morning couldn’t come quick enough! As we all arrived at the circuit, we were welcomed by full jerry cans (nice!) and hot tea and coffee (free and unlimited supply – super nice!). Before I knew it, I was out on the track and having the time of my life!

There were three instructors available for one-to-one sessions. Paul Curran, who competed in the British Supersport and Superstock championships, was offering paid tuition, and Dave Charrett and Gene Adam were offering help free of charge. I went out for quite a few laps with Dave, which he followed with a thorough debrief in the pits, pinpointing my mistakes and things to work on, before he sent me out again to practice alone. I asked Dave for help again on the second day, and he was just as thorough and insightful second time around. Great learning experience enriched by first-class banter – Dave’s trademark, I believe :)  

After seeing all sorts of tyre-changing mishaps at Euro track days before, I was very pleased to see that Circuit Moto went all out with the technical support. Nigel didn’t just hire a ‘tyre guy’, he hired a whole team! As I found out, one of the instructors, Paul, runs a motorbike workshop & Dynojet Centre in the UK (PCR Performance), and for these track events he brings his whole team with him. They were providing everything from tyre change to suspension set up, with Paul offering not just pointers at the track but also technical advice and tips in his garage. Best tech support I’ve ever experienced.

The pick up time in the UK was just the icing on the cake – I had my motorcycle back 3 days after my return to the country, which put all the other companies to shame, especially the one, who took 2 months to bring my bike back from Spain!

Now all these things we can usually research before deciding on what company to book with, but one thing that is unpredictable are the people – especially when you’re going with a new company for the first time. I was very nervous about sharing the track with 50 strangers, but once again, it turned out I needn’t have worried. We had a full spectrum of riders, from myself (definitely one of the slowest there) to club racer Dave Brook, and  British Supersport Champion Luke Stapleford, doing some winter testing. There’s no track event without someone accidentally-on-purpose cutting someone up, and occasional close overtake, and if you ask others they might complain that I was nothing but a rolling road block to them, but from my point of view, 99% of the overtakes were gentlemanly, and the 1% of naughty ones, were accidental and never happened again. Both on and off the track, everyone was very friendly. There were a few ladies on the track, a few ladies that came with their partners, and even one teeny tiny baby in massive ear defenders dozing off comfortably in the paddock. Being a girl, I always feel a little out of place at track days, as if I’m disturbing lads’ holiday, and as much as this event still had the locker room banter flowing, it was also family friendly and I’ve never felt more comfortable. 

 

Additional facts:

Prices of such events vary depending on duration (2,3 or 4 days), format (sessioned/open pit lane), and the circuit (Jerez, for example, is a premium track and therefore very expensive, whereas Cartagena is one of the cheapest). That being said, Circuit Moto offers one of most affordable Open Pit Lane events on the market.

The price includes: track time, bike transport (three pick up points across UK), bed & breakfast accommodation in a hotel.

The price does not include: flights, hire car, tyres, fuel, and evening entertainment.. ;)

You can find out more about Circuit Moto here: Circuit Moto

Tech support team is here: PCR Perfomance

Fantastic photography was provided by  PHD Photography – Paul is an avid biker himself, an sees motorbikes just as we do. All pictures used in this review are his work.

The hotel is only a 20 minute drive from the airport and a 15 minute drive from the circuit. It’s nice and clean, and the breakfast was great – a wide variety of hot and cold food, fruit and snacks. The hotel bar was very decent and open till late. Plenty of good restaurants within walking distance, although Chinese was my favourite (cheap and delicious) and I would advice to steer clear of the steak house (terrible food and very overpriced)

My second most-visited place, apart from the circuit itself, was the onsite bar/restaurant. Run by the lovely Scott, it offers delicious food all day –  I had breakfast there (skipped the hotel one twice), lunch everyday, dinner one evening, and partied there on our last night (vid..). I could not get enough of that place, and if you ever end up there one evening, ask Scott for a Baby Guinness and a Gas Chamber, and thank me later ;)

Cartagena is the most spectator-friendly track, I’ve ever been to! You can see almost the entire circuit from the pit lane, so if you’re thinking about taking your non-riding significant other to a European event with you, THIS is the place to go!

The guns are actually called Batería de Jorel and you can find them HERE

And here some visual from my trip for you:

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