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New Edmonton track, but some old feuds

IndyCar returns to Edmonton City Center Airport this weekend, but for all intents and purposes it's a brand new circuit and a new challenge for all the teams and drivers.
Edmonton City Center Airport has been hosting the annual IndyCar (or Champ Car) race since 2005, but drivers arriving there this weekend will find a completely unfamiliar track layout awaiting them.

After a winter off-season that saw the entire event cancelled for a time, organisers finally came to an agreement with local officials to allow the race to go ahead after all. But the track layout that has been used for the last six years is gone, with action moved to the airport's east runway and only sharing a short, twisty midfield section with the old configuration.

"It's completely different from the track we raced on here before. There will be much higher speeds. There are some tight corners," Paul Tracy said of the new-look track when he visited Edmonton a few weeks ago. "Nobody is going to complain about there being no opportunity to pass here. If you can't pass on this track ... I don't know where you're going to."

As a result of the switch of runways, 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. In the new configuration, 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 Tracy's fellow Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe.

"The other course was good and fast initially but it was too hard to pass on," IndyCar's track design consultant Tony Cotman agreed. "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," he said, adding that the aim was that the race should be "exciting for everyone."

The challenge of learning the new circuit will be made even greater by the weather forecast, which has already delivered very wet conditions for start of the two Friday practice sessions and with persistent rain and cool conditions forecast for the weekend, which sees qualifying on Saturday afternoon and the race itself from 7.45pm BST on Sunday afternoon.

“In the first session you have to try things and make sure you find your way quickly there,” said AJ Foyt Racing's Vitor Meira. “The quicker you find your way, the more you can focus on the car. You have to figure out braking points, gears, turn-ins, which curbs to use and which ones to avoid, how much speed to carry into this corner, and what is the best way to carry speed in: braking later, or earlier?"

"It will be a new game for everybody but understanding what made a car work on the old track will definitely help to be competitive on the new one," said Newman-Haas driver Oriol Servia. Drivers are expecting a bumpy surface despite some recent re-surfacing work where the worst cases have been patched with asphalt.




Related Pictures

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Wet conditions await at Edmonton on Friday practice day - July 2011. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Wet conditions await at Edmonton on Friday practice day - July 2011. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Kerb and grandstand at the new configuration circuit at Edmonton City Center Airport. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Canadian local hero James Hinchciffe an unsurprising favourite with the press and media at Edmonton. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
The hairpin and long straights at the new configuration circuit at Edmonton City Center Airport. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
A special message for James Hinchcliffe during the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia accident during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power on pit road during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line ahead of Penske team mate Will Power to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
James Davison on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Mark Miles and Derrick Walker announce the addition of Boston to the 2016 IndyCar Series itinerary. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)

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