Indy secures MotoGP future, Laguna Seca to be axed?

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 18 August 2013 15:19

The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) will remain on the MotoGP calendar in 2014, as doubts have emerged about the future of the Laguna Seca round in California.

Earlier this year IMS management said a decision on whether to go ahead with the final year of its contract with Dorna next season would be decided following this weekend’s race.

That decision though has already been taken, with circuit bosses keen to remain on the calendar next season because of the economic impact the event has on the city of Indianapolis and growing interest in the race.

Not only will Indianapolis remain on the schedule for 2014, but a statement from Dorna confirmed that talks were already underway about a long-term future for the race.

IMS management have put in huge efforts to promote the race at arguably the most famous motorsport venue in the world.

But the circuit on the infield of the iconic Speedway has come in for scathing criticism since it first joined the calendar in 2008.

Patchy asphalt, unpredictable grip and a bumpy surface has led to strong criticism, while some sections of the 16-turn, 2.621 miles track have been deemed too tight and slow for MotoGP.

It is clear that significant upgrades will need to be implemented for next year, including a complete re-surface and modifications to Turn 4 and the final corner.

Speaking yesterday after qualifying, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow told MCN: “We want to change the surface and we want some corners changed. To go around Turn 4 you might as well slip the clutch it is not that good. After Turn 5 to the end of the lap the surface is so slick you can't really pass because if you run off line you are in the grass. Firstly we want the surface changed and then change the first sector and the last sector."

Asked to explain what changes he’d like to see at Turn 4, the Ducati-bound star added: “Honestly I would run around the banking. It would be cool. Straight into the first corner and around the banking but no one else wants to do it.  I thought it was a great idea.  If we just open out the second and third corner so it is not as tight and then four can be more of a sweeping corner because now it is just first gear at 3,000 rpm for everyone. The last sector is the same. We all want it changed.”

Italian Valentino Rossi confirmed that Indianapolis was ready to adhere to the requests of the Safety Commission and he said: “Indy want to continue to do the race and they are ready to do a lot of work to improve. The main problem is that the asphalt they use for the infield because it is very bad. The quality is not fantastic and this is the base to improve the race track."

The likelihood of Indianapolis remaining on the calendar in 2014 comes against a backdrop of increasing speculation that the Laguna Seca race will be axed.

The California venue also has a contract for next season but concerns over the safety of certain sections like the approach to the Corkscrew, poor facilities and the fact that no Moto2 or Moto3 race is held there have placed the race in serious jeopardy.

With Argentina’s new Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo track definitely joining the world championship schedule in 2014 and Brazil pushing hard to follow suit, it is unlikely the schedule will be expanded to 20 races next year.

One concern is that the current restrictions on riders only having five engines per season won’t be enough, thus raising costs, as factories have to increase the allocation.

Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has previously stated there won’t be three races on the calendar in the US from next year onwards.

It  was always assumed that Indianapolis would be the race to go, keeping the spectacular new Circuit of the Americas in Texas and Laguna Seca on the calendar.

But MCN sources confirmed in Indianapolis that Laguna is now in a vulnerable position, particularly if the Brazil race goes ahead next season.