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Mike Webb on possible Catalunya/Germany track changes

Mike Webb on possible Catalunya/Germany track changes

During Monday’s post-race MotoGP™ test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Race Director Mike Webb discussed possible track modification at both the venue of the latest GP as well as the Sachsenring in Germany.

As testing began in Barcelona on Monday morning, the riders had 30 minutes to sample the shorter loop at Turn 10, which had been introduced in 2004 in a bid to create more overtaking opportunities for F1 car racing.

"It was an idea that came about from the riders’ Safety Commission and the meeting that we have on Friday at every race, when we discuss anything to do with safety and the circuit," Webb explained to "The entry to Turn 10 here is high-speed and there is no way of extending the run-off area because there is no room at the circuit to do that. One of the alternatives proposed was to use the F1 car layout, which has a tighter Turn 10 and braking earlier on the straight – therefore it is slower. So it was suggested that we try that layout to see if it works for bikes, to improve safety.

"We are going to have a meeting of all the riders together, with Race Direction in the room, and discuss it in depth. The initial impressions, just talking to riders who have come straight off the bikes, is more or less 50/50 split. They all agree that the larger run-off area is definitely safer. There are one or two comments that, with the nature of the corner, there could be more incidents of riders touching each other; it becomes a very wide entry to a very slow turn and there are a number of different lines available, which could mean you will have two riders turning in on different lines and touching each other. So, there are plusses and minuses and it is more or less 50/50 split at the moment.

"It is too early to say whether it is likely to happen. The thing is, with an alternative at this circuit, it exists already – it is a layout that is often used so, from the infrastructure side, no problem whatsoever: it can work. From the other side, it would just needs agreement by a large majority of the riders – and ourselves as the organisation – that it is definitely safer and that it is workable. It is relatively easy to implement because the surface exists already, it is not like we are building something new."

Webb also confirmed that a test will be staged on the Thursday of the upcoming German Grand Prix in two races’ time, in order to address the issue of Turn 11.

"The test will take place on the Thursday before the German Grand Prix," he said. "We had an initial test late last year. It is Turn 10, which is a very high-speed, right-hand turn and we have had a number of crashes there over the years. Many times we have discussed how we can improve the safety of that turn; slowing down the turn is what the riders suggested, so we did a test last year with Loris Capirossi, using temporary curbing to change the layout of the turn and slow it down. It was quite successful, but to get a final approval we want GP riders on MotoGP™ riders to test that possible layout.

"What we are going to do is to put the temporary kerbs in place on Thursday and have three selected riders – one Honda, one Yamaha, one Ducati – to ride around and get their impressions on whether it is a better layout, whether it is safer and are there any problems associated with that? This will be information for the future; we won’t have time to change the circuit for this year’s GP but, if the test is successful, then we have time to implement for the following year."

Quizzed over whether any change at the Sachsenring’s Turn 11 would involve the use of temporary kerbing or more permanent changes, Webb explained:

"The possibility of using temporary kerbs exists; we do that at other circuits, like an Indianapolis, but if we can avoid doing temporary kerbs we are happier. It will come down to what is technical feasible with the circuit. Can they, with the surface available – what is underneath the track and so on – change the layout permanently, or does it need to stay as it is and use temporary kerbing? It is a technical issue of what is actually possible, so we will discuss that with the circuit once we’ve made a decision on how the layout needs to be."

The German round of the season, Round 9, will be staged on Sunday 13 July.


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