Mixed reaction to F1 corner test in Catalunya

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A special 30-minute test on a revised layout of the Catalunya track divided the MotoGP grid earlier this week.

The majority of the premier class field, including reigning world champion Marc Marquez, carried out a short test of a slower and tighter F1 section just before Turn 10.

The test was instigated with concerns that there is now insufficient run-off at the end of the back straight, with several riders reaching the perimeter fence after running off in the braking zone.

The alternative tested on Monday is a slower and tighter first gear left-hander, but the section currently only used by Formula One got a mixed reception from the MotoGP field.

Repsol Honda rider Marquez, who claimed a stunning seventh successive win in Sunday’s Catalunya race, was one who liked the revised corner.

The Spaniard said: “We saw this weekend that corner is quite dangerous because you go into it very fast and the problem is if you go out of the track you cannot brake. Even if you brake in the gravel you can still arrive at the wall. And it is impossible to move that wall. For me the new corner is really nice. It has a hard brake point and it will be a good corner for the last laps. Maybe for the TV the current corner is nicer but the chicane is safer.  If you go alone and then wide, Turn 10 is not a problem but if touch with another rider and release the brakes it is quite dangerous because you can arrive at the wall quite fast. If we want to change that we need to use the car corner.  I did just five laps but I enjoyed the new corner because it is completely different from all the other corners, which are mostly long and with a lot of banking. I like the new corner. For safety the corner is better but for the show we don't know."

Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso also felt the new F1 corner was the better option and when asked by MCN for his thoughts, the Italian said: “For the safety it is much better because we have a lot of metres if something happens on the brakes. The new corner is really tight and I think it will be in first gear, so it is not so nice but when you pick up the bike in the new chicane it is nice, so in my opinion it is positive for the safety. Like this it will be much easier to overtake because it will be much wider. And I think it will be first gear, which is one gear less than the corner we now use, so it will be easier to overtake. To cut Turn 10 from this track is not the best, but the safety is really important.”

Former world champion Jorge Lorenzo agreed that the F1 corner might be safer but it might be more dangerous in the early laps of a race.

The Movistar Yamaha rider said: “For safety it is better and perhaps there can be more overtaking but also more risky to crash in the first lap because five riders can arrive trying enter in a first gear corner. They also need to improve the grip of the track in this area and a little bumpier.  In theory for safety if you don't find the wall so close it is better."

Not everybody is convinced though that the F1 corner is the best solution, with Yamaha trio Valentino Rossi, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro all hoping the layout for MotoGP remains unchanged.
Having previously tested the F1 section in a Ferrari Formula Car, Rossi didn’t even bother assessing the section on his Yamaha YZR-M1 and he said: “I didn't try it because I don't like that corner. I tried that corner with a F1 car and it is s**t.  It is very bad for MotoGP. I like it as it is now. It is a classic race corner, but the problem is there is not enough run off area.  My idea is to continue with the normal track."

British rider Smith wasn’t impressed and he added: “It is pretty naff. It is a first gear corner and for me it is less safe because it would be carnage on the first lap going in. I think we will see far too many crashes. I wasn’t impressed at all.”

And his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Espargaro agreed. The Spaniard said: “I don’t think it is the best solution. It is a F1 corner and too tight. You have to brake too much and when you are inside the corner there are two types of asphalt and there is a big jump between them. I think it is not the best option.”

Rossi even found an unlikely ally in in former bitter rival Casey Stoner. The Aussie retired at the end of 2012, but he tweeted about Rossi’s opposition to a new layout being employed in the future.
Stoner tweeted: “I will totally agree with @ValeYellow46, I don't think they should change Catalunya at all! One of the best circuits there is!!

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt