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New look at Edmonton, last look at Motegi

New track layout for Edmonton unveiled, but IndyCar announces that 2011 will be the last outing for the series at Japan's Motegi Twin Ring oval because of the ongoing state of the motor car industry.
Organisers of the 2011 Edmonton Indy have unveiled the completely re-thought circuit layout that the event will use for the race in July after it was narrowly saved from cancellation thanks to a last minute deal between the promoters and the city.

The race will still take place at the City Centre Airport in Canada's Alberta province, but will now make use of the east runway that has been closed and out of use since shortly after the 2010 IndyCar event.

As a result, the circuit will now be anti-clockwise, sending the drivers into a 90 degree left hander from the start line and with a 180 degree hairpin at the fifth turn and another at turn 13 at the end of the long straight to put the drivers back on to the start/finish straight, a total length of 2.256 miles.

The end result should be more challenging for drivers than the old 1.96-mile, 14-turn course, which had too many turns that were little more than 'kinks', which ultimately interfered with rather than enabled overtaking opportunities.

"The other course was good and fast initially but it was too hard to pass on," design consultant Tony Cotman said. "One of the big things we needed to focus on with this course was how to make the show better, and I think we've achieved that."

Calling the new circuit "exciting for everyone", Cotman said that "I think we can create a much better actual racetrack for racing on and obviously that's what people come to see." As a result of the changes, six grandstands will be positioned much nearer to the track to make spectators feel far more part of the action.

"The new [circuit] looks really cool with some great passing opportunities, which the last configuration lacked a bit," said Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe, who won the Firestone Indy Lights race at Edmonton last July. "Edmonton was always known for being the most physical race, and I enjoyed that, but these new straights will take away a little bit of the challenge and give us more of a break over the lap. All the drivers' necks collectively thank the design team!"

But as IndyCar said hello to a new look Edmonton, it was announced that the series would also be bidding a final farewell to Twin Ring Motegi, where the series has raced since 2003 and which saw CART Champ Car races for five years prior to that. At the time, Motegi was the first overseas event to be added to the traditionally States-bound IndyCar championship season.

IndyCar's final appearance at Japan's first-ever oval circuit, originally built north of Tokyo in 1997, will be on September 18.

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