The Three Sisters Race Circuit, situated in the town of Ashton-in-Makerfield, is one of the UK’s premier karting venues and holds the title of being one of the fastest “short” circuits in British Karting, with close, exciting racing and overtaking possible at almost every section of the track.
The Start line is situated halfway up Conrad Straight, the longest straight in British karting, and you’ll be reaching extraordinary high speeds for a racing kart before barrelling into Turns 1, 2 and 3, which are also part of the Esses complex. Under racing conditions, hard braking is followed by a late apex for T1 just off the kerb.
Follow the kerb round before flicking left for T2 which is another late apex, you’ll be off the brakes and balancing the throttle at this point. Halfway round T2 the track is bumpy and you’ll probably feel the kart going airborne on the inside slightly but you’ll also notice that the uphill T3 can be taken almost without any steering input whatsoever so get on the throttle fully and speed your way up the hill. Overtaking into this complex is probably the easiest thing in the world if your motor has some waft as the tow can be felt from up to 6 or 7 kart lengths back most of the time, so if you’re in front of someone by said distance going across the line for the last lap, chances are you’re almost certainly going to have to defend the inside hard to stand a chance of keeping the spot.
A short straight follows before the signature part of this course, the Valley Chicane. This is downhill, very fast, has high kerbs either side and the stopwatch will reward the last of the late brakers. Approach from the full left before swinging into the first apex, just clipping the kerb with your wheels (in the wet I would smash straight over this kerb) before straight-lining it down towards the second apex, staying clear of the kerb this time. If you’re good and brave you will have kept the throttle on fully all the way through here and will only be hitting the brakes once you feel the dip at the second apex ready to take the third part, a hairpin, towards the paddock straight.
Keep close to the kerb all the way round the hairpin whilst feeding in the power before running out to use a wee bit of the flat exit kerb. Overtaking is possible here if you get a massive advantage in speed over the guy in front coming out of T3 but most of the time it’s best to take this single file and use it to set up a possible move into the next corner. A half-hearted move here can result in some serious consequences.
Paddock Bend is next and is preceded by the straight of the same name. Leave braking until you’ve actually started turning into this corner, which is best done early,
and follow the high kerb all the way round until the very end which will set you up nicely for the next part of the track. That next part is immediately afterwards with two sharply left cornered bends known as Turns 6 and 7. This is a double apex which can be taken in two ways; one way is to go for a mid-track apex for the first part before getting on the power to get close to the kerb for the second apex and straight-lining the little wiggly bit afterwards on the way to Rodgersons Straight. The second way, and probably the better one for racing purposes, is to go in and get close to the kerb at both apexes before running out and running your wheels over the end of the high kerb on the right part of the wiggly bit before entering the straight.
If done correctly, all the braking will be completed during the second half of Paddock Bend leaving T6 and T7 to be where you would feed in the power ready for the next part of the course. Overtaking is possible into Paddock using a better exit from the Valley to your advantage and into T6 if they leave the door “very widely” open (and I stress, “very widely”).
After the wiggly bit, Rodgersons Straight follows before Turn 8 and Lunar Bend. Turn 8 is a very fast left hand bend and how you take this corner depends on how well Lunar and Conrad Straight are taken too so it’s important that both the driver and the kart perform well round here. Approach T8 from the right before either lifting or power-braking into a mid to late apex, this part is bumpy and lays a lot of rubber so hopping is common here. Lunar follows immediately afterwards and will require a slight dab on the brakes. Turn in from a mid to left track position during your dab on the brakes and get close to the inside kerb, control the throttle to hug the kerb all the way round before letting the kart run wide towards the outside kerb. By now you should be on full throttle for the two right handed kinks which lead onto Conrad Straight to start another lap. As with the rest of the track, overtaking is doable here either into Turn 8 using the better exit speed from the addock/T6/T7 complex or into Lunar if you are right behind them and they stay too far left after the exit of T8, although in most cases it’s best using it to make sure your exit is as clean as possible ready to slipstream past them up Conrod Straight.
Photos by Jay Adair Motorsport Photography