AMA riders pleased with overall changes to circuit at Infineon Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. -- Top riders from the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Series tested three new portions of track on Thursday at Infineon Raceway, and riders agreed the...
AMA riders pleased with overall changes to circuit at Infineon Raceway.
SONOMA, Calif. -- Top riders from the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Series tested three new portions of track on Thursday at Infineon Raceway, and riders agreed the changes were a step in the right direction.
AMA factory teams Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki were joined by Austin Ducati, Bruce Transportation (Honda), No Limit (Honda), Erion (Honda) and Graves (Yamaha) on the twisting Sonoma Valley circuit for a one-day test session under sunny skies. In all, 20 riders gave the course a full-day shakedown.
Riders were anxious to test three new portions of track at Turns 1, 8-10 and 11, which have been redesigned to address rider concerns for the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenege, presented by Honda of Milpitas, May 2-4.
"I like the changes a lot," said Honda rider Miguel Duhamel, winner of the Daytona 200. "I especially like the new section at Turns 8-9. That area is going to be a lot safer but it's going to be more exciting, too. It's the best of both worlds."
Ben Bostrom (Honda), a former AMA Superbike champion who has spent the last three years in World Superbike, was also pleased.
"I just like the fact that Infineon talked with the riders before they made the changes. They gave us a chance to have some input. We don't see that everywhere we go," Bostrom said. "I think you're going to see a much safer track. We don't have to ride around here anymore with a constant fear. This track is a lot safer and that's what we want. I'm happy."
Raceway officials made the changes to the three portions of track after a one-day consultation in October with AMA riders Duhamel, Bostrom, Aaron Yates (Suzuki) and Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki), as well as AMA Road Race Manager Ron Barrick.
Turn 1 had been a sweeping left-hander, putting riders at a precarious angle as they approached a pedestrian bridge at the apex of Turn 1. The circuit has now been extended 50 feet in a straight line before entering Turn 1. Riders will then make a left turn at approximately 90 degrees, which is designed to direct them away from the bridge and up the circuit toward Turn 2.
Riders tested various apexes at Turn 1 on Thursday, and track officials may alter the turn a bit for the AMA Superbike doubleheader in May.
"We may tinker with a couple of the corners, but we don't anticipate any other major changes," said Steve Page, track president and general manager. "We're pleased with what the riders had to say today. It was a good test."
The entry into Turn 10, considered the fastest segment of the road course with speeds approaching 160 mph, has also been altered. As riders crest Turn 8A, they will no longer continue down the famous esses. Instead they will continue down a straight line for 900 feet, parallel with the Hillside Terraces at Turn 9, before making a 90-degree right-hand turn, followed by a sharp left-hand turn, which will blend them back with the original road course just before Turn 10. This alteration will slow the bikes down substantially entering Turn 10. This new segment of track has been dubbed the "Bus Stop."
The final enhancement is at Turn 11, which has been shortened by approximately 40 feet. The change will direct riders toward the start/finish line after they exit the hairpin at Turn 11. This marks the second change to Turn 11, which was shortened by two-tenths of one mile in 2000 to provide riders with nearly 300 additional feet of runoff. The three changes to the track have shortened the circuit from 2.32 miles, to 2.2 miles.
"I think the track is going to be fine," said Yamaha rider Damon Buckmaster. "The changes they made are going to make this place safer. There are a few areas that can be tweaked (Turn 1), but overall it's good."