Thursday, August 30 2012
Internationally renowned motor racing circuit Brands Hatch is gearing up to hold the London 2012 Road Cycling events in six days' time from Wednesday 5 to Saturday 8 September.
The Kent venue is a former host of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix and held 14 rounds of the World Championship between 1964 and 1986. The Paralympic Games Road Cycling is expected to attract the biggest global audience for Brands Hatch since that final Formula 1 Grand Prix 26 years ago.
214 athletes from 42 nations are expected to participate in the Road Cycling events across four days, competing for 32 gold medalson the course which uses part of the famous Grand Prix circuit and the surrounding roads. Paralympic Road Cycling comprises three types of races: Road Races, Time Trials and Team Relay, and there are four types of cycles used: a tandem, used by athletes with a visual impairment and with a sighted pilot at the front, a handcycle, with two wheels at the back and one at the front, a tricycle, normally used by athletes whose balance means they are unable to race on a two-wheeled bike, and a bicycle, often with modifications.
Brands Hatch has been described by the International Cycling Union as the 'best Paracycling venue of all time,' and the ParalympicsGB team are expected to be strong contenders for medals after a successful games in Beijing 2008, with five gold and two silver medals won in Road Cycling.
Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of MotorSport Vision, owner and operator of Brands Hatch said: "The Paralympic Games Road Cycling at Brands Hatch will be a unique and momentous occasion and I'm looking forward to seeing hundreds of world-class athletes competing here next week. Brands Hatch actually began life as a cycling venue in 1926, so it's fitting that the sport returns here on such a grand and prestigious scale as part of London 2012. It will be a real highlight of the whole history of the circuit."
Team GB tipped to fight for honours
Double Gold medallist David Stone will aim to defend his Men's Time Trial and Road Race crowns in the tricycle category on Wednesday 5 September and Saturday 8 September respectively.
Defending Women's Time Trial champion Rachel Morris, who competes in the hand cycle category, will go for glory on Wednesday and Friday, while Swimmer-turned-cyclist Sarah Storey, a gold medallist in the Women's Time Trial in 2008, will race on Wednesday and Thursday in the C5 category.
Storey has recently claimed gold in World Championship events for both able bodied riders as well as paracycling, and is hotly tipped to add to her haul in the Time Trial and Road Races at Brands Hatch.
Visually impaired competitor Lorna Turnham and pilot Fiona Duncan have also recently tasted glory on their tandem at the Para Cycling Road World Cup.
Italian former motor racing champion returns to his roots
Italian former F1, ChampCar and World Touring Car driver Alex Zanardi will make a welcome return to Brands Hatch in the handcycle category. The Italian star, who lost both legs in a horrific Champ Car accident in Germany in 2001, first made the move into cycling in 2007 and has since gone on to win the Venice, Rome and New York marathons.
Zanardi experienced the Brands Hatch layout for the first time in June during an official Paralympics test event and was full of praise for the venue:"The course couldn't be better, it's fantastic. Knowing the circuit better than anybody else I thought I would know where to negotiate braking points, where to slow down and take the right lines but in reality the course is so wide that you never even cuddle the brakes other than the first corner that goes onto the outside section. I really enjoyed it, it is fantastic."
Spectators attending Brands Hatch with a ticket will be able to see the start and finish of the races as well as the medal ceremonies for each event which will take place in the start/finish area. Ticket holders will also have access to the official London 2012 shop containing a wide range of Paralympic and venue specific merchandise as well as food and drink stalls.
All spectators must be prepared to go through airport-style security checks and bring with them only small bags/rucksacks. No liquids over 100ml are permitted inside the venue but spectators can bring empty bottles with them to fill up from the two designated water fountains available inside the venue.To download a venue plan of Brands Hatch during the Paralympic Games click here and for further spectator information click here.
Spectators can also view the Road Cycling events free of charge on Gorse Hill, Scratchers Lane and Fawkham Road. For full information on viewing without a ticket click here. Please note that road closures will be in place during the course of this event, for further details click here.
Getting to Brands Hatch during the games
Spectators with a ticket will receive a Games Travelcard which allows free travel on National Rail between London and Sevenoaks station, the recommended station for Brands Hatch on the day of the event, as well as on public transport in London zones 1-9.
People without tickets who plan to view the action from outside Brands Hatch are advised to use the free shuttle bus service based at top of Wrotham Hill, just off the A26 and close to junction 2 of the M20. The service will take spectators close to the race course, and more information can be found here. Parking will not be available close to the venue unless spectators have a ticket for the event, in which case spaces are limited and should be booked in advance. People viewing from the free road side viewing areas are strongly advised to use the shuttle bus service.
For a full schedule of events taking place at Brands Hatch during the Paralympic games, and a list of competitors from ParalympicsGB click here.
To buy tickets for the Paralympic Games Road Cycling at Brands Hatch on 5-8 September click here.