SONOMA, Calif. (March 28, 2000) - The modified road course at Sears Point Raceway will get its first full official test next week when riders from Vance & Hines Ducati and Yamaha participate in a two-day test session in preparation for the Progressive Motorcycle Insurance AMA Superbike Challenge, May 5-7.
Steve Rapp and Troy Bayliss from Vance & Hines will be joined by Yamaha rider Tommy Hayden on the 12-turn, 2.32-mile road course Monday and Tuesday (April 3-4). The test sessions will span 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.
The two changes to the track were made at Turns 5 and 11 and are designed to enhance safety. Both upgrades were made under the guidance of Kawasaki rider and three-time Superbike champion Doug Chandler. Kawasaki twice made trips to Sears Point to test the new circuit, but because of rain, only managed 40 minutes of rain-soaked track time.
Turn 11 was shortened by two-tenths of a mile, giving riders nearly 300 feet of run-off room, as compared to less than 20 feet prior. The re-configured Turn 11 will also eliminate the chicane at Turn 12, as riders will now come out of the turn and onto a near-straightaway at Turn 12. The second safety enhancement came at Turn 5, where there is now more than 100 feet of run-off room, as compared to 20 feet a year ago. More than 27,000 cubic yards of dirt was removed to create the additional run-off.
Rapp, a local from Lafayette, took sixth at the first round of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship Series earlier this month at Daytona Beach (Fla.) Bayliss, meanwhile, suffered a crash and finished 36th. Hayden had a strong seventh-place showing for Yamaha.
Jamie Hacking would normally join Hayden at the test session, but he is still recovering from a left elbow injury sustained in the Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport race at Daytona. Hacking hopes to be ready for Sears Point.