Motorcycling isn’t a cheap hobby, regardless of what aspect you do. From riding on the road to track days, Motocross, trials, or even just watching, it takes a lot of hard-earned to get started. With the rapidly worsening road conditions, decreasing speed limits, dashcam heroes and standards of driving these days, it’s not uncommon for many riders to become track only riders.
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But with rising costs in the UK, busier tracks packed full of red flags, and weather that is unpredictable at best. The next best option, how about Euro track days? With Brexit now clearing up slightly and borders opening for British holidaymakers, are Euro track days possible for British track day junkies?
How much does a UK trackday cost?
Trying to put a cost to it is a hard call because there are always so many variables, and whilst I try to keep it simple, it does not take into account the ‘start-up’ costs of certain multiple-use items like tyre warmers, van, and of course the track bike itself.
Take a NoLimits day at Donington, and the top class noisy day, which comes in at £211 for the day. Not the most expensive, as Brands Hatch GP comes in at £218 for the day, and Silverstone Grand Prix circuit comes in at £259. If you are track daying on a budget, there are quiet days that are typically cheaper and evening sessions, but also there are many other smaller tracks that can keep costs down, compared to a full GP spec circuit.
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Depending on your level, you’ll also use up tyres. Variables include the time of year, weather conditions and your skill and preferences. You might need two sets of tyres, a set of wets and slicks/treaded trackday rubber. For example, a seriously fast rider in the fast group running slicks and a 1000cc bike might use a pair of slicks every one or two track days. A more novice rider may get multiple track days from a pair of fast road rubber.
Typical ‘consumable items’ for a UK track day can include a couple of tanks of fuel for the bike (spare jerry cans are super helpful) and if using a van fueling that up. Other consumable items include food and drinks for yourself throughout the day. It can be super beneficial to bring a mate or two with you to help out!
Of course, UK trackdays do have some downsides; you can’t bank on the UK weather or the people forecasting the weather, for that matter. Adding a second pair of wheels and tyres for wets can be costly, and some riders blatantly don’t enjoy riding in the rain.
I’ve also heard so many people complaining in 2021 about the size of groups running on UK trackdays. Some groups run 60 riders, making the track feel crowded and rare to get a good clear traffic-free lap. With 2020’s lockdowns giving zero track time, 2021 has been a red flag frenzy with people complaining about the constant stream of stopped sessions.
How much does a European trackday cost?
One the choice of wealthy clientele with the latest and greatest in superbikes, European trackdays are fast becoming equal if not better value for money than UK trackdays. Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic has plagued euro trackdays, but with things starting to open up, deaths are decreasing, and vaccines increasing, the future possibilities are great. Borders are opening up, and trackday providers are getting dates back in the calendar and offering covid guarantees and promises, should borders close or riders test positive.
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With a single day at a premier UK GP circuit costing upwards of £200 per day, four days at Almeria in sunny Spain at £499, including the hotel cost, it seems like a right bargain! This is just a bed in a room with other people; not being fussy will save a few quid, but it’s normal around £150 extra to have your own room for the four days. Add in £110 for a cheap flight over to Almeria, £100 for a hire car and some food and booze money it sounds like the perfect holiday, right?
Bikes can be dropped off at pick up points around the country; packing as much kit and the bike onto the stillage takes some practice, but it’s possible to get everything you need there, including the spare tyres, which you will need. If you are at a really good pace, for the four days, you are going to be looking at three rears and two fronts, which, if running slicks adds a large cost, is arguably the biggest expense of the trip. Chuck in some tyre change expenses at £60 and, four days of fuel costing around £150.
Euro trackday cost
Track day – Almeria 4 days – £499 (inc hotel)
Hotel room upgrade – £140
Flights – £110
Hire car – £100
Tyres – 3x rear 2x front – £900
Fuel for the bike – £150
Tyre fitting – £60
General expenditure – food / drink etc – £200
Total – £ 2150, but this could be done on a smaller budget, without the single room, budding up with hire cars, and cutting down on after trackday beers.
In comparison to UK days, there is good track time, although the days are usually the same groups. Typically there are more ‘advanced’ riders on these days, giving fewer red flags meaning the day goes without drama. The weather is usually spot on, perfect for riding; however, it is normally hot, so keeping the fluids up is a great idea. Generally, the whole event is much more chilled out than UK track days. There is no rush to get there early in the morning with ample track time, and it doesn’t matter if you miss a session. With it being a multiple day event, there is an excellent social side off the track, and usually, a social event too.
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There are some downsides. Obviously, the cost compared to a single UK day, there is limited space with what you can take due to small stillages for transport. With it being a multi-day event, if you smash your bike on the first day, beyond repair, you can miss out! The groups can be big and have varied abilities, which can be frustrating, but the circuits usually are bigger, allowing space to spread out.
Driving to Spain with bikes in a van
Driving to a European track day is a lot more expensive; the drive itself can be painful, but it’s great being able to take everything you need without cramming it on a stillage. I have driven through France to Cartagena before, and with the tolls and the extra fuel, it’s pretty much the same price to get the ferry.
I did Jerez with the track day organiser Rehm, and so far, they have run the best track days I’ve ever been on. There is live timing available, so you can go and print all your lap times out whenever you want if you are chasing constantly faster times. The groups are small, and there seems to be a much smaller range of abilities. The days are often trouble-free and run like clockwork with little stoppages or overlaps. Rehm also usually have some friendly races on one of the days, allowing some competitive tracktime and a good taster for those looking at entering events.
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The drive over to Spain takes the best part of 2 days to drive each way. Portugal will be slightly longer too. I’ve usually stopped for a few extra nights on the track day or try to get a couple of events on the one trip to make it more worthwhile and save some costs.
Driving to a trackday cost summary
Track day – 3 days at Jerez – £540
Hotel – 7 nights Barcelo montecastilo – £480
Ferry to Santander, return – £840
Fuel for van – £400
Fuel for bike – £120
Tyres – £900
General expenditure – £400
Are Euro trackdays better?
In my opinion, it depends on what you’re after from a track day. For me, the quality of the track time is the most crucial bit. UK days, in general, seem to fail at that because of the sheer amount of people in each session, crowded tracks, people going above their ability and more often than not, poor weather. While some people see track days as a social event, taking to the track to have a laugh with their mates, then a Euro trip might not be for you. If you want to maximise track time in great conditions with plenty of space to get faster and chase PBs, then a Euro day could be for you.
The best UK track days I’ve ever been on are the Jamie Witham days at Anglesey. Small groups, quality instructors and great track time. Highly recommend them, I just wish they’d go to some of the other circuits! For example, the last JW track day I did at Anglesey had 18 people per group. The last NoLimits track day I did at Anglesey had somewhere around 56 people per group. I won’t do another NoLimits day there as a result, as I just spent the whole day frustrated, never getting a clear lap!
The average euro days are great value for the amount of track time you get! Again, there are good and bad ones and usually, the more expensive TDOs have less per group, which is well worth it! For me I like to try and do at least one drive to Spain track day per year. Usually at Christmas with Rehm racing. It’s expensive, yes but the quality of track time is worth it for me, and Christmas over in Spain is amazing!
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