With a new season comes new challenges and with new challenges comes new tracks, Jake Sparey will guide you through the ins and outs of the upcoming season's tracks. Round One: Spa Francorchamps (With Classic Pits Layout) 17/06/16 Track: Spa Francorchamps Location: Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium Length: 7.004km (4.352 mi) Turns: 20 (Clockwise: 11 right, 9 left) Laps: 24 Key Corner: Pouhon Previous Winners: *Indicates Grand Prix Layout *PM S1: Riku Alatalo (FIN) *PM S4: Justin Brunner (USA) *PM S5: Gunar Nijenhuis (NED) FR2.0 S1: Kerry Knowlden (ENG) Spa Francorchamps is a circuit steeped in history and is undoubtedly one of the great circuits in all of Motorsport. Switching to a classic pits layout for the Formula Renault, we haven't seen as much drama in terms of lap one incidents at Eau Rouge, the famous rise up the hill. Overtakes are vital along the Kemmel Straight and into the Les Combes Complex as that is where the slipstream will be strongest, and also out of Stavelot and the run through Blanchimont also with the run down towards the bus-stop chicane where we expect to see some side by side action. In both instances Rivage and La Source will be the last resort for overtakes so expect to see a classic this season. Round Two: Phillip Island 24/06/16 Track: Phillip Island Location: Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Length: 4.445km (2.762mi) Turns: 12 (Anti-Clockwise: 5 right, 7 left) Laps: 38 Key Corner: Lukey Heights Previous Winners: PM S5: Jean-Francois Godin (CAN) FR2.0 S1: Jean-Francois Godin (CAN) Phillip Island is all about top speed and getting the most speed through the corners. Doohan Corner is always with a very light lift before the 180 degree long turn two known as Southern Loop, more difficult than meets the eye. Being more famous as a Moto GP test track, turn four on the brakes is known as Honda, before heading into the challenging turn six of Siberia. Carrying as much top speed as possible to turn nine and Lukey Heights where one small twitch can end your race before hitting the brakes at Turn Ten, before using the power to get through the final two left handers. The inaugural race here was won by less than a tenth of a second so drag races to the line have great potential here. Round Three: Mosport 01/07/16 Track: Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Location: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada Length: 3.957km (2.459mi) Turns: 10 (Clockwise: 6 right, 4 left) Laps: 42 Key Corner: Moss Corner Previous Winners: PM S1: Kerry Knowlden (ENG) PM S3: Kerry Knowlden (ENG) Very Similar to Phillip Island, Mosport is a fast flowing, high speed circuit which is an unforgiving circuit at best. The opening four corners, Turn One, Clayton Corner, Quebec Corner and Turn Four are each high speed left and right handers that flow through at around 100 to 115 MPH before you jam onto the brakes for the most difficult part of the circuit, Moss Corner, turns five and six. It holds one of the two key overtaking opportunities as you head into the off camber corner which tightens for the second part, meaning it has a tendency to throw cars off of the circuit. After travelling down the long Mario Andretti Straight, the notorious Esses are next, famous for two accidents in season three. The first where Justin Brunner span, hitting the barrier, with the second involving Jean-Francois Godin being taken out of the lead alongside with Joni Takanen. The final corner is Whites Corner, where holding momentum is key, it's been a year since we last raced there, so expect to see some fireworks. Round Four: Zandvoort 08/07/16 Track: Circuit Park Zandvoort Location: Zandvoort, Netherlands Length: 4.307km (2.676mi) Turns: 13 (Clockwise: 9 right, 4 left) Laps: 38 Key Corner: Audi S Previous Winners: PM S3: Phil Reid (ENG) FR2.0 S1: Jean-Francois Godin (CAN) Zandvoort is a unique dutch circuit in the fact that it houses many elevation changes. Turn One is surprisingly a banked corner, similar to an oval in the US, with a lovely tight and twisty infield section before heading on up the hill. The series of three right handers get tighter and slower before the turn left, heading to the Audi S. Get nice and wide on the way in so you can open the banked left on the other side. Two rights remain with the final corner being banked like the first. Overtaking is difficult on such a tight and twisty circuit, qualifying is key. Round Five: COTA 15/07/16 Track: Circuit of the Americas Location: Austin, Texas, United States of America Length: 5.513km (3.427mi) Turns: 20 (Anti-Clockwise: 8 right, 12 left) Laps: 30 Key Corner: Turn 16 Previous Winners: *Indicates a shorter layout was used *PM S2: Phil Reid (ENG) For the first time in forever, the full layout of the Circuit of the Americas gets used. The Formula Renault’s will need to be careful as the full 5.5 kilometres proves a difficult challenge, especially the opening sector, up and down the hill then into a series of rights and lefts, one which famously rolled a certain Mr. Kerry Knowlden. The second sector is all about top speed and it will be interesting to note who will scrub the speed in order to get the tight and twisty sections working well. The double left of fifteen and sixteen is the key corner as you're always turning left, meaning locking is more frequent, and also the chance spinning. The final corner will be crucial with a short run to the line. Last time we were here, we had fuel shenanigans. Hopefully those won't come back again. Round Six: Mid-Ohio 22/07/16 Track: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Location: Lexington, Ohio, United States of America Length: 3.634km (2.258mi) Turns: 13 (Clockwise: 8 right, 5 left) Laps: 46 Key Corner: Turn 11 Previous Winners: PM S1: Riku Alatalo (FIN) PM S3: Kerry Knowlden (ENG) Mid-Ohio returns to the AOR calendar after a leave period of nine months. The predominantly Indycar course starts with a small left up the hill before the difficult Keyhole corner of turn two. Heading down the long back straight past the starter's gantry at Turn Three, the China Beach section has one of the best undulating corners in the world with Turn Five difficult over the crest. After a short blast through the Esses section, you continue right onto the brilliantly named Thunder Valley straight. Small kink right into the blind left of Turn Eleven, so important as you need to to carry as much speed as you can into the Carousel, where a million lines can be taken. One small left finishes the lap however with only a couple of passing opportunities, consistency is a virtue. Round Seven: Imola 29/07/16 Track: Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Location: Emilia-Romagna, Italy Length: 4.909km (3.050mi) Turns: 17 (Anti-Clockwise: 8 right, 9 left) Laps: 34 Key Corner: Acque Minerali Previous Winners: N/A Implemented for this season, a long awaited Imola finally makes it’s way onto the calendar. Forever remembered in Formula One for the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, Tamburello is difficult on the brakes, slow in, to fast out, minding the sausage kerbs on the inside. Villeneuve is next for the left right, one line suits all chicane before heading into Tosa, up the hill on exit. After the quick left hander of Piratella, Acque Minerali poses a huge challenge, forever going right on the brakes into the medium paced right bend. The Variante Alta has lost its bite in recent years, now reduced to a slow right left, before hitting the double lefts of Rivazza, skipping the Variante Bassa on the run to the line. The track is narrow, most clearly seen by Michael Schumacher's attempts to get past Fernando Alonso in 2005. Round Eight: Suzuka 05/08/16 Track: Suzuka International Racing Course Location: Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, Japan Length: 5.807km (3.609mi) Turns: 18 (Clockwise Figure-8: 10 right, 8 left) Laps: 32 Key Corner: Spoon Previous Winners: PM S1: Riku Alatalo (FIN) PM S2: Justin Brunner (USA) PM S4: Justin Brunner (USA) PM S5: Jean-Francois Godin (CAN) FR2.0 S1: Michael Mittner (AUT) Suzuka has always been a circuit of drama in AOR, with Godin jumping the start last season, and Phil Reid getting penalised the season before that. Turns one and two ease you into a rhythmic pattern of the S Curves. The Dunlop Curve comes next, holding the resting place of Jules Bianchi, before sliding on down to the two Degners, dropping a couple of gears each time. From there it's a short run to the hairpin with the run right after of 200R, critical to keep the power down before hitting the incredibly difficult Spoon Corner, double apex left hander which is off camber in the second apex, meaning car placement must be pinpoint accurate. The back straight over the bridge leads into the fabled 130R, with a hint of a lift before traversing the tough braking zone of the Casio Triangle, very easy to catch people out. We've seen runaway winners in the past few seasons, hopefully we won't see the same again. Round Nine: Oulton Park 12/08/16 Track: Oulton Park International Circuit (Without Brittens Chicane) Location: Little Budworth, Cheshire, England Length: *4.307km (*2.692mi) *Measurements include the Brittens Chicane Turns: 14 (Clockwise: 8 right, 6 left) Laps: 38 Key Corner: Lodge Corner Previous Winners: N/A Oulton Park is seemingly the adopted son of British tracks in AOR, with this being the first outing in seven seasons. Old Hall Corner is dangerous on exit with the astro turf but one of the most stand out moments, driving down the avenue, through denton’s and hard left into the cascades. Island bend is a passing corner before you reach Shell Oils Corner which is banked, allowing for multiple lines to be taken. Skipping Brittens, you run flat out up the hill, before worrying about your brakes, downhill into Hislop's and Knickerbrook, once a notorious right hander. Jostling will happen up Clay Hill and also through the Water Tower as you swiftly head right for Druids Bend. Under Warwick's Bridge and then Lodge Corner becomes the final difficult turn on circuit. Driver's must be cautious because of the massive depression down the hill which really does test the mechanical grip. Driver's will be looking for a breakaway but there has been some lovely close action in many other series. Round Ten: Road Atlanta 19/08/16 Track: Road Atlanta Location: Braselton, Georgia, United States Of America Length: 4.088km (2.54mi) Turns: *16 (Clockwise: 10 right, 6 left) *Track map labels 12 turns however 16 accounts for the esses and the double corner of 10a/b Laps: 36 Key Corner: Turn 5 Previous Winners: PM S1: Riku Alatalo (FIN) PM S3: Justin Brunner (USA) PM S4: Kerry Knowlden (ENG) FR2.0 S1: Michael Mittner (AUT) Road Atlanta has hosted four different winners from four different countries in four different teams. How is that for a stat? Turn One is a medium fast right hander before you head down the hill into the multitude of rights and lefts, very quickly followed up the hill with “The Esses” before hitting the notorious Turn Five. A left hander which levels out on top of a plateau, there is heavy amounts of kerb on the outside to disrupt an already disrupted car. Spins have been a plenty in the past with many drivers, quick and slow making the mistake. Turns Six and Seven pass of as 90 degree right handers before entering the long back straight down the hill into the prime overtaking place, turns 10A and 10B, the left right chicane. Aside from that it is a couple right handers downhill for what will be a fruitful close race. Round Eleven: Bathurst 26/08/16 Track: Mount Panorama Location: Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia Length: 6.213km (3.861mi) Turns: 23 (Anti-Clockwise: 9 right, 14 left) Laps: 26 Key Corner: Skyline Previous Winners: PM S2: Justin Brunner (USA) PM S5: Michael Mittner (AUT) This course is summed up by the first corner, Hell's corner, a difficult off camber left hander. From there the car flies up the Mountain straight to Griffin's Bend which has caught out many a driver. So has turn four, The Cutting, another off camber left hander but this time, steeply up the mountain. Through the fast right of Quarry, you are then counting the lefts till the descent. Reid Park, Frog Hollow, Sulman Park, McPhillamy Park, then finally, downhill you go through the fast right of Skyline. From there the car dances down the hill, through the Esses, The Dipper left which catches a few people off guard, and before you know it, round the Forrest's Elbow and relaxation on the Conrod Straight. Down the chase into a mid gear left right chicane before reaching Murrays Corner and finally being able to relax around the cunning mistress. Not many people know this is a street circuit, it is one of the better ones in my opinion. Round Twelve: Nurburgring 02/09/16 Track: Nurburgring Grand Prix Strecke Location: Nurburg, Germany Length: 5.148km (3.199mi) Turns: 16 (Clockwise: 9 right, 7 left) Laps: 36 Key Corner: Warsteiner-Kurve Previous Winners: *Indicates the Nordschleife was used. *PM S5: Rene Osterkamp (GER) FR2.0 S1: Jean-Francois Godin (CAN) A fitting finale around a circuit that has produced some of the best action around, the Nurburgring starts with the Yokohama Kurve of turn one, famous for Kimi Raikkonen's broken suspension and Kerry Knowlden's incident with James Goodall. Following is the sweeping lefts of the Mercedes-Arena which then flicks ninety degrees right, feeling a lot more like a hairpin. The track funnels downhill with the next left right section before the Turn Eight hairpin, 180 degrees right which would be known as a carousel if the track was in America. Up the fabled Schumacher ’S’ almost flat out, the left hander of Turn Eleven appears before the downhill right of the Warsteiner-Kurve. Very easy to mess up the exit and paramount on the run to the chicane. A small right kink through the ADVAN-Bogen leads to the tight NGK-Schikane, famous for the incident between Christian Koch and Phil Reid; the former being planted on two wheels. The final corner is a 120 degree right formerly known as the Coca-Cola Kurve. Everyone can remember Koch's last lap heroics here last season on the final lap. Expect a season finale classic here.