The Superbike World Championship heads to Sepang for the sixth round of the season this weekend, but the 3.44 mile Malaysian circuit will pose a new challenge to riders after a recent revamp.
The circuit has been completely resurfaced to solve grip issues faced by both World Superbike and MotoGP riders in recent years, but in an attempt to improve the circuit’s drainage facilities the camber of a number of corners has been altered and in turn has modified the circuit’s entire profile.
Not only are lap times set to be different, but some corners have been changed to the extent that riders will need to learn new lines to tackle them.
“We’ve made a complete overhaul of the track,” Jarno Zaffelli of circuit designers’ Dromo Design told WorldSBK.com. “MotoGP requested us to improve the bumpiness and the grip level, so we have done a full resurfacing of the circuit but we also changed the banking of a lot of corners and improved run off areas too.
“We’ve improved the drivability in most corners, except the last one which will now be the only corner on the track that is completely off-camber. This will make turn one a little more slower and turn two will be more flowing as we’ve removed a hump on the inside.
“Turn five was a big problem for tyres so we decided to improve the force on the left hand of the tyres increasing the banking by 200%. Riders will be able to go into turn nine much faster than before as it’s now much more flowing.
“The biggest changes are for the last corner, it’s off-camber like before but even more now as the drainage is all on the outside. Riders will have to find a completely new line, staying wide on the entrance and cutting in at the point of the old apex, so the door will be much more open for last chance overtaking.”
With the work getting underway after the MotoGP pre-season test in February, the World Superbike riders will be the first to try out the revamped circuit as practice gets underway on Friday.