All 27 drivers entered into this month's GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will have extra practice opportunities to get used to the revised track layout at Sonoma Raceway, the IZOD IndyCar Series had confirmed.
It was revealed at the end of July that the track was being tweaked
to improve overtaking opportunities, after a less than thrilling race in 2011 when the venue went by the name of Infineon Raceway.
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. The changes make the circuit into a 12-turn, 2.31-mile road event.
All drivers entered into the Sonoma event will now be able to participate in the opening day of track activity on the race weekend itself, August 24-26.
“There have been several changes to the track and this allows everyone an equal chance to learn the layout,” said IndyCar's president of competition, Beaux Barfield. “There is a test this week that does allow everyone an opportunity, but we wanted to be sure everyone had the chance to get miles and see the three fairly significant changes to the track.”
Normally the first half of the first practice session is reserved for rookies and those outside the top ten in the championship points, with the latter half then open for the whole field, but now all competitors will be able to run throughout the 75 minutes.
To accommodate the extra running time, teams will also be given a ninth set of tyres to allow them to put in extra laps without having to stretch out their existing tyre allocations.
In all, there will be 27 drivers taking part in the weekend's proceedings. As well as the 25 regular drivers, the numbers will be boosted by extra entries for Katherine Legge in a second Dragon
Racing car alongside Sebastien Bourdais, and a car for Sebastian Saavedra
in an AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport co-entry.
The extra practice time at Sonoma over the race weekend is in addition to this weekend's test day on August 17 which will see 20 drivers representing 11 different teams taking part in an eight-hour public test session.
This weekend had originally been scheduled for the Indy Qingdao 600 in China, until the late cancellation of the event
following a change of policy in June by the local municipal government in the port city of Qingdao.