The IRL Indycar Series embarks on the second of its new-for-2005 road course ventures with a visit to Infineon Raceway at Sears Point this weekend [27-28 August].

Whilst the circuit will be familiar to those drivers who have previously raced sportscars, or who came up through the American ladder system, for others it will provide slightly more of a challenge, despite the various teams having tested there recently.

Australian rookie Ryan Briscoe is one for whom the 2.26mile, twelve-turn Californian road course - complete with its elevation changes, blind corners and high-speed turns - will be new, but is also a venue where the Chip Ganassi driver, brought up on road courses rather than ovals, may be expected to excel.

"Infineon Raceway is a great track," Briscoe begins, "It reminds me of Mugello in Italy. Both tracks go through the hills, everything is green and it's very scenic. They both also have some very high-speed turns.

"A lap starts on the flat on the start-finish straight. You get right up to fifth gear, and then you start turning left as the track goes straight up. You start braking for the blind first corner in second gear. It's really spectacular because you are braking up the hill. I don't think we'll see much passing there.

"After that corner, it's a series of S-bends that really take you up and down before you come into a blind corner at sort of a medium speed. That gets you to turn five, which is a heavy braking corner. You are turning right, down the hill and up to a straightaway in the middle of the circuit that leads to what they call 'The Carousel'.

"The Carousel corner is really unbelievable. It's very fast and the corner falls away the whole time. You're on the edge the whole way. It's really an amazing corner, probably the best one on the track. It may be one of the better places to pass on the circuit, because a little mistake at the exit of The Carousel and you open yourself to getting passed at turn seven, which comes at the end of the long, flat-out straightaway at the end of The Carousel that gets you up to sixth gear.

"Turn seven is a double right-hander at the top of the hill that puts you on a straight that's downhill and leads to another high-speed turn. You're running sixth gear, flat out and on the edge. That's spectacular and very fast. You then go down an S-bend to the chicane, which is a heavy braking zone and a place where you use the curb. It's a very quick change of direction, and I think it will be a good passing zone, too. That gets you to the final hairpin, which is the slowest turn before getting back to the start-finish straight.

"I think there are places to pass at Infineon, but it all depends on how people will set up their cars aerodynamically. Some people may choose to run different downforce levels to help them get through different parts of the circuit. There should be some variation there, and it will be interesting to see."

 

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