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Baltimore and Sonoma track layouts tweaked

This year's races at Sonoma and Balitmore will see the respective track layouts feature a number of alterations to improve the racing action, series officials have announced.
The IZOD IndyCar Series has confirmed that there will be changes to this year's track layouts for the the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the last weekend of August and the Grand Prix of Baltimore at the start of September.

Construction on the 2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit in Baltimore started on Monday ahead of the race on September 2, and officials confirmed that the main straightaway on Pratt Street would no longer include a chicane, turn 1 would be widened and the shape of turns 5 and 6 - which includes in the pit entry - would be reconfigured for this year's second holding of the event.

"I talked to a number of drivers to get their thoughts about the chicane and the recommendation was with some grinding it would speed the cars up going into Turn 1 about 7 mph," said IndyCar's Tony Cotman, whose company NZR Consulting contracted to build the circuit. "Without the chicane I think it will improve the show with a longer run into turn 1, which will be widened to create a better passing zone and will be a good viewing place.

"Then we looked at turns 5 and 6, which was a difficult combination last year, and we'll change the shape of the corner, which may entice some passing. There is terrace seating there that puts the track right under their noses. There are some other subtle changes like the shapes of walls."

The intention is to add additional overtaking opportunities and improve competition for the race, which was a big success in its début on the IndyCar calendar in 2011. However, disputes between the original race promoters and the local authorities had left the event in doubt for 2012 until new promoters were appointed in February.

There had been no doubts about the series' return to Sonoma Raceway in California, although the name itself will seem unfamiliar for the circuit formerly known as Sears Point and most recently as Infineon Raceway. The ten-year naming deal with Infineon Technologies came to an end in June, and the venue is now going by the name of Sonoma until a new naming rights deal is signed.

Last year's IndyCar race at Sonoma was memorable for an almost complete lack of incident, with the three Penske drivers starting and finishing in the same order in a top-three lock-out. Race organisers have made a number of changes to the circuit for this year's race, which will be held on August 26 a week before Baltimore.

The run down to the hairpin turn 11 will be lengthened by 200 feet to make a deeper turn giving drivers more opportunity to out=brake their competitors, or to get a better run out of the turn and set up a pass into turn 12. The exit from the Bus Stop (turn 9) will be widened, and turn 7 has been remodelled into a new hairpin.

As a result of the changes, Sonoma will now be a 12-turn, 2.31-mile track, with organisers stressing that the changes had been made with made with the input of the drivers to improve the on-track action.

“The modifications to the Sonoma track layout will enhance the competition on the track, making it a better show for the fans and more challenging for the drivers,” said IndyCar director of operations Bill Van de Sandt.

“This was something we worked on in the offseason and I think it is really going to make for some exciting racing,” agreed last year's race winner Will Power, who will be among 23 drivers to spend a day testing the new layout for the first time on August 17 before the race weekend.



Related Pictures

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Cars battle on track at Infineon Raceway. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Overhead shot of turn one on the street course at Baltimore for the double-file start. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power (inside) and Graham Rahal (outside) go into the tight turn 1 at the start of the race. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
The field lines up in double-file down the start/finish straight. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway (centre), driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory with champagne Sunday, April 13, 2014 after winning the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. Will Power (right), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power on track (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power signs an autograph for a young fan at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power on course during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in the fountain turn complex during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in the fountain turn complex during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track at Long Beach on Friday (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais on track at Long Beach on Friday (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)

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