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Exciting new plans laid out for this year's Ashbourne Soapbox Race

A longer course, more room for spectators, more obstacles, a spectacular "secret" jump and even TV screens and cameras are all being planned for this year's return of the Ashbourne Soapbox Race.

Applications for the hugely popular September event, which ran for the first time last year and attracted an estimated 7,000 people, open next month and organisers have been working on a series of improvements to ensure the action is non-stop.

Set out once again along the Market Place, the racers will start further up towards North Avenue this year and, following a "secret jump" and a chicane, their carts will be hurled round the tight bend out of Union Street and into Market Place.

Exciting new plans laid out for this year's Ashbourne Soapbox Race coronavirus 第1张There will be more karts, and a more challenging track (Image: Dominic Gibbons)

Further obstacles will be waiting for them as they hurtle down the hill, preparing to take another tight right-hand turn, this time into St John Street, ready to cross the finish line at the Green Man.

This year there will be more karts running, with 90 competing teams instead of 60, and they will be leaving the finishing line every two-and-a-half minutes, to avoid long gaps between the spectacles.

Organisers say they have focused on the experience for the specators this year, by creating more space by narrowing the tracks and adding new areas for them to watch the race from.

The race's chairman Sean Clayton said: "What we want to do is increase the spectator experience so they can get a drink, they can get something to eat, they can see a TV screen and they can see the course.

"When you've got that many people turning up we want to spread them out, put them a little bit further up and put a screen in so they can see the race properly.

"It's all about spectators and what we can do for the town, how we can showcase Ashbourne.

"Some of the shops didn't open last year - but I think they'll change their mind this year."

Last year's bumper turnout came as shock to the organisers, who said they would have been pleased to see 3,000 people - but more than double that number lined the streets and clamoured for a view.

Exciting new plans laid out for this year's Ashbourne Soapbox Race coronavirus 第2张Spectators will be able to see more of the action (Image: Dominic Gibbons)

To make the most of the road closures on the day the organising committee will soon start carefully selecting mobile catering firms to bring in food, drink and ice cream for the onlookers - and these facilities will be dotted around the outskirts of the course.

Funds are currently being raised for an elaborate camera system and a big screen, which would be installed on the market place and relay every bit of the action. This is estimated to cost around £5,500 and it is hoped a sponsor, or a group of sponsors, will support the outlay.

Last year the Karts went on public display ahead of the race in the Market Place - but this year they will line up along the course before the races begin at noon, and ahead of the start they will be hauled up the hill to gather at the start line.

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The race is already attracting huge interest ahead of the application stage, which begins on Good Friday, April 10. The race will take place on Sunday, September 13.

Applicants will be picked on a lottery basis after the three-week window, which ends in May, and this year there are no age groups - but all racers must be aged over 12.

To find out more, sponsor the event, or volunteer as a steward, visit the event's official website at www.ashbournesoapboxrace.co.uk

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