Address: Circuit de Croix en Ternois, RN 39, 62130 Croix-en-Ternois, France
PH: +33 3 21 03 30 13
Circuit type: Permanent road course
The small circuit at Croix-en-Ternois has been a staple of the French national racing scene since its inception and still hosts a varied racing calendar on two and four wheels. The 1.18 miles / 1.9 km circuit is tight and twisty - truth be told it is fairly unremarkable - yet for a brief period in the 1970s, it enjoyed international attention when it played host to the European Formula 3 Championship.
The story began in 1971 when a group of car enthusiasts decided to build a circuit of their own land alongside the main Arras to Le Touquet road. Construction took place over the next two years, with the circuit inaugurated in May 1973. Largely flat, the circuit boasted no grandstands, instead relying on spectator banks around its perimeter, which at least afforded some decent views if little in the way of protection from the elements.
Formula 3 - in the form of the French Championship - paid its first visit in July of that year. Christian Ethuin took victory in a Martini-Ford. Somewhat remarkably, it was the European series which arrived in 1975. After 30 frenetic laps, Australian Larry Perkins took victory in a Ralt-Toyota. For the next two years the rising stars of the European scene would battle it out on the tiny circuit's tarmac. Riccardo Patrese, Connie Andersson, Rupert Keegan, Nelson Piquet, Elio de Angelis, Derek Daly, Beppe Gabbiani and Jean-Louis Schlesser were among those vying for honours - Andersson and Daly were the winners.
Of course, it couldn't last. Croix-en-Ternois was a little too small for comfort and the F3 stars did not return in 1978. Perhaps the circuit's heyday was already behind it, though it still remained a popular local venue. In 1980, the Association Sportive Auto-moto of Ternois was formed, aiming to develop local motorsport under the tutelage of the French Federation of Automobile Sport. It was also a handy testing venue for Formula One teams en route to Monaco - the tight twisty nature of Ternois proving a handy shakedown for the principality. Manufacturers also would occasionally book the circuit, most famously when Renault launched the new 11 model to an assembled crowd of some 20,000 spectators...
A racing school was established on site in 1996, while in 1999 Patrick Aubreby - then the CEO of the Gayant brewing company and a French F3 competitor - became the circuit's new owner. Under Aubreby's tenure the circuit went under some much-needed renovations. In March 2000, the work of re-homologation of the circuit was completed and, once again, Croix-en-Tournois reverberated to the sound of F3 engines when the French championship visited once again. Sadly, it would only be back for a further two years - this time not because of any dissatisfaction with the circuit but due to the absorption of the French series into the new Euro F3 Championship.
More advanced plans were put forward by Aubreby for a circuit repaving project, which duly began in winter of 2012. As well as creating a new Virage du Pont, the whole circuit was widened, with the aim of improving passing possibilities and generally creating a more flowing layout. The revised layout is now certified to FIA Grade 3 standard and continues to host a varied schedule of races.
The Circuit de Croix-en-Ternois is located between the villages of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise and Croix en Ternois, near to Arras in northern France. The nearest airport is at Le Touquet, around 50 minutes by car from the circuit.
The circuit is located directly alongside RN39, which links Arras and Le Touquet, and is therefore easy to locate, although the entrance is a little tricker to get to as access is actually from the adjoining D941. From the RN39, take the exit to D101 towards Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise (signposted for Circuit Automobile) and then continue a short distance to the junction with the D941. Turn left and the circuit entrance is on the right hand side before the road filters back out onto the RN39.