Cadwell Park is located near Louth in Lincolnshire, and is well-regarded as one of the UK’s most technical tracks. Undulating and with impressive changes in elevation, it’s usually used for motorcycle races – though we took it on in Hyundai’s latest hot hatch, the i30 N.
It’s little wonder why the track is often referred to as the ‘mini Nürburgring’ – its tight, twisting corners and limited amounts of run off aren’t dissimilar to those found on the ‘Green Hell’ in Germany. It is, however, substantially shorter – with the car circuit based over 2.19 miles, against 12.9 miles at the Nordschleife. Cadwell is, however, steeped in history. The very first race meeting took place in 1934, while it hosted the British F3 series in May of 1962.
The track starts at the start straight, opposite the main paddock area. In the i30 N, you hit over 100mph down here, barrelling towards Coppice – a long left-hand corner which sweeps upwards. You can hit this after just a small dab of the brakes, with a progressive throttle giving you the required grip – lift, though, and it’s a corner that will happily spit you out on to the grass.
This is followed by the far tighter Charlies corner. This, with its two apices, requires you to slow down and gradually feed the car around. Thankfully, the i30 N copes with this rather well, though too much power or too quick an entry speed can cause the car to push wide – and there’s not enough track for you to do this too much.
Once round Charlies, you’re on to the Park Straight. This first dips down and then climbs, giving you the opportunity to exploit the higher speeds of the car. First you need to keep right, before slowly drifting left and going hard on the brakes before the sharp Park corner. This slowly turns into Chris Curve, which requires you to be level and patient with the throttle – too much and the car will scrub wide, but just enough and it’ll stick to the inside of the corner. The Hyundai’s electronic differential certainly helped here, dragging the car back into line.
This brings you around to Gooseneck. This is a tricky little corner, as its steep downwards incline can make negotiating the sharp S-bend quite difficult. However, get it right and it’s one of the most enjoyable sections of the track.
As you descend even further you arrive at Mansfield. Again, you can quite easily get this one wrong, as the steep approach means you can often be carrying more speed than you think.
Take it easy around Mansfield, and you’re on the way to the most iconic bend Cadwell has – the Mountain. It’s made up of a quick left and right-hand section of bends, but is accompanied by a huge increase in elevation. Once you reach the top, the tyres of the car chirp as they struggle for traction, and it’s here that motorcycle riders often break away from the surface altogether, leaping into the air.
After the fun of the Mountain, you’re quickly into the technical Hall Bends section. These turns take a lot of concentration, and can unsettle the car if you don’t manage your speed too well. It dives into Hairpin, and you have to slow the vehicle down a considerable amount to make your way around smoothly.
— Cadwell Park (@CadwellPark) November 2, 2017
Building speed, you then get into Barn – a sharp right-hander that brings you back on to the main pit straight.
Cadwell is a hugely involving and technical course, but a rewarding one – so much so that you struggle not to keep lapping over and over again. It may be a lot shorter, but it’s more than deserving of its Nurburgring comparisons, and is rightly known as the UK’s version of the ‘Green Hell’.