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A lap of the Laguna Seca circuit

A lap of the Laguna Seca circuit

A lap of the Laguna Seca circuit

The eagerly awaited return of the MotoGP World Championship to the US is only a couple of days away, with the famous Laguna Seca circuit all set to host motorcycle racing's premier-class GP for the first time since 1994.

The 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit ranks amongst the most technical and challenging tracks and promises to provide thrilling action for the 150, 000 spectators expected this weekend and to the ever growing international TV audience, with MotoGP being broadcasted throughout the world via 47 stations. offers you a first taste of Californian bliss with an excerpt from the 1993 Grand Prix, an onboard video from race winner John Kocinski's Cagiva.

Laguna Seca circuit was inaugurated in 1957 on a small plain 250 metres above sea level and 12 Km to the east of Monterey in the state of California.

This circuit has been modified only very slightly over the years, but more recently several areas have been remodelled to comply with the strict safety regulations laid down by the International Federation of Motorcycling. The track layout has not been altered but the escape routes and the levels of safety have been improved for the MotoGP race.

The track configuration is somewhat peculiar with corners that are not found on any other circuits in the World Championship. The most famous part of the circuit is without doubt the "Corkscrew", a very slow chicane taken at approximately 60 Km/h and situated on a sharp down slope which can give you a bout of vertigo if you go through it on foot!

Another point in the circuit worth mentioning is the start/finish straight which is very short and also made up of two slight changes in direction with the added problem that just before the second small change in direction there is a bump in the track surface where the bikes will literally take off in the air at more than 270 Km/h. This will be one of the key points to watch out for because it is potentially a dangerous part of the track, but also one which will mark out the differences between the top riders.

Just before the "Corkscrew" corner there is another change in the track level, where the bikes will almost certainly lose contact with the track, and it comes just before the sharp braking point going into the "Corkscrew".

The drop just after the "Corkscrew" is also very spectacular. It has two fast corners taken at 135 km/h leading up to the steep slope which leads to the very slow corner (60 Km/h) going into the main straight. This could be considered a good overtaking point.

Regarding the technical set-up of the bike at Laguna Seca, very short gear ratios must be used – possibly the shortest in the entire World Championship. With top speeds on the straight being relatively low at around 280 km/h, and with a couple of corners taken at less than 70 Km/h, it is unlikely that the teams will make use of a normal 6-speed gear change. More likely they will only employ 5 gears, and the sixth will be redundant (normally, in situations where not all gears are used, it is the first gear that is redundant).

In MotoGP bikes where the power is delivered at low revs, only five gears can be used without losing acceleration and we also save valuable hundredths of a second by eliminating an unnecessary gear change on the straight.

Regarding suspensions, a hard front fork will be used to withstand the sharp braking in the "Andretti Hairpin" and "Corkscrew" corners and also the corner leading into the straight. The rear suspension must also be hard enough to withstand the force exerted in the fast corners and in the rapid change of direction in the "Corkscrew"

The combination of relatively hard front and back suspension with short gear ratios means that teams will experience problems with wheelies in many parts of the circuit. The electronic power delivery control systems will play a significant part in improving the performance of the bikes in this respect at this circuit.

The extra hour of practice given to the teams by the race organisers will be valuable in gaining a good set-up for the bike in time for Saturday's qualification session at a circuit which is so peculiar and where teams have been absent for so many years.


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