Sonoma track modified for IndyCar August race

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Configuration is expected to promote passing, on-track action

SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2012) – Raceway officials today unveiled a modified track layout for the GoPro Indy® Grand Prix of Sonoma, which is designed to enhance passing opportunities for the upcoming race in August.

Story Highlights

  • Turn 11 extended 200 feet before hairpin turn
  • Turn 9 exit widen to 50 feet width
  • Turn 7 changed to U-turn

Steve Page, president and general manager of the raceway in Sonoma, and Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe made the announcement during a press conference on Turn 11 of the road course.

The site of the announcement was appropriate as Turn 11 is one of three areas that will be modified for the race, Aug. 24-26. Turns 7 and 9 will also be modified.

The raceway worked with a number of people on the modifications, including Team Penske president Tim Cindric, Team Penske drivers Briscoe and Will Power, Mario Andretti and INDYCAR officials, among others.

“These changes reflect nearly a year of study and consultation with drivers, racing engineers and sanctioning officials,” said Page. Combining these new corners and braking zones with INDYCAR’s new competitive engine environment should open things up considerably and we’re very anxious to see the results play out at the race in a few weeks.”

The modifications to the turns are as follows:

• The entrance into Turn 11 will be extended by 200 feet before drivers encounter the hairpin. This will give drivers more space to out-brake each other and set-up a passing opportunity before the right-hander into Turn 12. The geometry of the modified Turn 11 will mirror the shorter turn used for INDYCAR in previous years.

• The exit of Turn 9 (aka The Bus Stop) will be widened by 10 feet on drivers’ left, giving competitors additional width in what was already a passing zone. The exit of the turn will now be 50 feet wide.

• At Turn 7, instead of the looping right-hander, drivers will now encounter a u-turn. The new turn will force drivers to out-brake each other, similar to Turn 11, and create a passing zone. Previously, drivers could maintain speed as they made the looping right-hander.

“This was something we worked on in the offseason and I think it is really going to make for some exciting racing,” said Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. “We will know more after the testing, but it looks like we will be able to go into Turns 7, 9 and 11 expecting to be able to make a move. I’ve enjoyed the racing at Sonoma in the past and expect to see even better racing this year.”

With the modifications, the track will now be 12 turns and 2.31 miles (it was 12 turns, 2.303 miles). The race distance will increase from 75 to 85 laps. At this point, the modified track will only be used for INDYCAR-sanctioned events.

“The modifications to the Sonoma track layout will enhance the competition on the track, making it a better show for the fans and more challenging for the drivers,” said Bill Van de Sandt, director of operations for INDYCAR, sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series. “This solution was truly a team effort using the input and feedback of IZOD IndyCar Series teams and drivers and the cooperation of Sonoma in working with INDYCAR to get it done.”

Drivers will visit the facility for the first official test of the new layout on Aug. 17 during a full-field test session. The test is open to the public for FREE.

Revised track layout
Revised track layout

Photo by: Contributed

What They’re Saying About the Sonoma Track Reconfiguration

Ryan Briscoe
No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
“As drivers we should all be excited with the track reconfiguration as it will help open up more areas for passing. With the new Turn 7 it is going to be a slower corner with heavy braking and later turning which will become an added passing opportunity. Turn 11 will also create a new challenge with a longer chute leading to carrying more speed into the Start/Finish line. I certainly welcome the new changes because they add to the beauty of driving the circuit.”

Will Power
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
“I am really looking forward to getting out on the reconfigured track to seeing how well the new changes promote passing. This was something we worked on in the offseason and I think it is really going to make for some exciting racing. We will know more after the testing but it looks like we will be able to go into Turns 7, 9 and 11 expecting to be able to make a move. I’ve enjoyed the racing at Sonoma in the past and expect to see even better racing this year.”

JR Hildebrand
No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet
"I think it's great the track had decided to make the changes in Turn 11 and Turn 7, and they both should help create more passing opportunities. A longer Turn 11 especially will help because the way we ran the track previously we never could quite be in a position to make a pass, but with another 150 or 200 feet you can probably get it done. And it will also make the run up to Turns 1 and 2 more difficult because you're going to be going up there with a lot more speed.

Turn 7 is a tricky one, but it's time to try something different and having a hairpin at that point in the track will present more of an opportunity for passing. It will be more like a standard braking zone on the outside of the track, which will help the racing. At the end of the day they've adjusted two places where passing hadn't been an option previously, and now I think both turns will be places you can be successful in your passing attempts."

Bill Van de Sandt
Director of Operations for INDYCAR, sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series
“The modifications to the Sonoma track layout will enhance the competition on the track, making it a better show for the fans and more challenging for the drivers. This solution was truly a team effort using the input and feedback of IZOD IndyCar Series teams and drivers and the cooperation of Sonoma in working with INDYCAR to get it done.”

Source: Raceway in Sonoma

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Breaking news
Tags indycar, page, sears point, sonoma