Cartagena Track Guide

cartagena-track-guideCartagena is situated in southern Spain and is frequently used for winter track days and testing.

The track is technical featuring 17 corners and only one straight. Many of the corners are back to back, so no sooner have you exited one corner before you are entering the next one. The circuit will highlight weaknesses in your riding and will eventually help you to learn to take one corner in such a way as to set up for the next one. If you blow one corner at this track, you’re likely to mess up the next one too!

Most riders’ first impression of the track are not positive. This is because the technical nature of the track makes it hard to find your rhythm. However with a little practice and perserverence those same riders grow to really enjoy the circuit, with many coming back time and time again.

The information here is gleaned from various sources on the internet and following one of Hottrax’s instructors in October 2013. This guide tries to break the circuit down corner by corner with photos, diagrams and short explanatory notes for each of them.

Turn 1

Turn 1 is the first corner at the end of the 600m start-finish straight. After clearing the pit lane exit, move over to the left hand side of the circuit for the first turn. Instead of tackling turns 1 and 2 separately, treat them both as one corner with a decreasing radius on the exit (of turn 2).

You can be up to a foot away from the the right hand side apex of turn 1. After the apex run out to the kerb on the left as you approach turn 2.

Turn 2

Try to ensure that you are close to the left hand kerb on the entrance to turn 2 in order to widen the corner and make the exit easier. Don’t be tempted to turn in too early or to hug the right hand (inside) kerb too soon.

You want a late apex on turn 2 in order to make the correct entry into the left hander for turn 3. As you ride around turns 1 and 2, try and make a point of setting your cornering radius so that it will carry you around from the start of turn 1 right the way through to the end of turn 2. You might need to change down a gear or lift off the throttle momentarily between turns 1 and 2 in order to be over to the right in preparation for turn 3.

Turn 3

Provided that you exited turn 2 over to the right, turn 3 is relatively easy. If you messed up the exit then you will have to deal with a greater lean angle (or less speed) to comfortably make the turn.

Be prepared to make a fast direction change from right to left as you enter turn 3. Apex slightly late and let the bike run out to the right on the kerb on the exit.

Turn 4

Stay right on the approach to turn 4 and turn in later than you might expect. Instead of trying to straight line turns 4 and 5, really work your turn to the left as this will help make your exit from turn 5 easier and faster.

Turn 5

Provided you made a decisive left turn through turn 4, you’ll be nicely set up for the exit on turn 5. Aim to just clear the inside kerb (on the right), so that you are gently pushed out to the left on the exit as you get hard on the gas.

It’s important not to cut across the kerbs on turn 4 and turn 5 (effectively straightening the corner), otherwise you’ll be exiting turn 5 still cranked over. This could stop you getting hard on the gas early and you might even run out of track on the left.

Turn 6

This is one part of the track where you get some breathing space. You can almost treat this as a straight. Try and remain somewhere in the center of the track as you approach turn 7.

This is an important section of track where you get really get hard on the gas and improve your lap time but only if you took a decent line through turns 4 and 5.

Turn 7

The key for turn 7 is to make a late apex and let the bike run out to the left to just kiss the kerb on the exit.

Don’t make the mistake of turning in too early as this both costs time around the corner and makes the exit more difficult.

Turn 8

After exiting turn 7, start moving the bike to the center of the track in preparation for being on the right at the entry to turn 9.

Aim to apex the turn somewhere towards the middle of the track and make sure you are moving over to the right in preparation for turn 9.

Turn 9

Provided you approach turn 9 on the right hand side of the circuit, you shouldn’t have any problems with this corner. Don’t be tempted to turn in late as there is plenty of track on the exit.

Allow the bike to run out to the right on the exit in order to get nicely set up for turn 10.

Turn 10

Aim for a slightly late turn in from the right hand side of the track after turn 9 and keep over to the left next to the curb in preparation for turn 11.

Turn 11

Just as you pass the kerb on the left begin your turn to the right. Don’t be tempted to dive for the apex. Keep the bike centered on the track until the right hand side apex and kerb naturally meet you as you go around the corner.

Don’t left the bike run too far to the left as you approach turn 12 where you really want to be on the right hand side of the track when you turn in.

Turn 12

Provided you approach the corner on the right hand of the track, this corner shouldn’t present any problems. Don’t turn in too late as there is plenty of track on the exit.

Turn 13

This is a difficult corner to get right. After leaving turn 12 on the right hand side of the ciruit, get the bike over to the left hand side in anticipation for the turn in to the right. You’ll notice a dark line in the tarmac that follows the line of the corner approximately on the center line of the track. Once you enter the corner and cross this line don’t go outside of it again until you are exiting the corner.

The trick with this corner is to stay away from the inside of the turn until you are ready to make a late apex.

Turn 14

Like turns 1 and 2, turn 14 is really an extension of turn 13 and you can treat turns 13 and 14 as one.

As you get on the power exiting the turn, let the bike run out towards the kerb on the left hand side.

Turn 15

Turn 15 is a gentle left hander made more difficult by the fact that you should be carrying a lot of speed through it as you approach turn 16. After leaving turn 14 move to the right hand side of the track, run in close to the left hand side apex and then come out to the right again ready for turn 16.

It’s almost as if you are straightening the corner once you’re on the right of the track after turn 14.

Turn 16

This is another tricky turn. You need to ensure that you are over to the right hand side of the track before you turn in. Don’t turn in too late as there is plenty of room on the right as you exit the turn.

Turn 17

The final corner of the circuit and another tricky turn. Make sure that you move to the left of the track after leaving turn 16 in preparation for this corner.

You’re aiming for a late apex onto the start finish straight. Don’t be tempted to dive for the inside of the corner too early. This is one of the keys to a faster lap time as getting this corner right will allow you to get on the power that much earlier.

Lap Video

This is a video of the lap following an instructor which should help you make sense of the track and the notes above. The video includes turn number indicators to help you work out where you are on track. Focus on the instructor’s lines rather than the camera bike!

If you want to see a faster (1:48) instructor lap, take a look at this video on YouTube of Antonio Maeso, a Spanish two times national championship winner.

Summary

Cartagena is a fabulous circuit. It will highlight all of your riding problem areas but will also reward you with great feeling of satisfaction when you get a few or maybe even all of the corners right.

Cartagena’s track surface is abrasive and grippy. Combine that with mostly brilliant sunshine and warm weather and it makes for a great circuit to visit and ride around.

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