Silverstone could become the fastest track in the MotoGP World Championship following a £5 million refurbishment due for completion next spring. The investment is designed to make the venue more ’bike-friendly’, the track having lost its Formula 1 round but won the right to stage a bike Grand Prix for the first time in over 20 years.
Much of the Northamptonshire track will remain untouched by the changes, the most significant of which affect the Abbey to Woodcote section. The redesign was undertaken after MotoGP safety delegates raised concerns over Abbey and Bridge corners. The very slow chicane which completes the current motorcycle lap, and has always come in for criticism from bike racers, will disappear.
The new layout, a third of a mile longer than the F1 track, is designed to create fast and close racing. Computer simulations suggest that MotoGP bikes will lap the 3.5 miles at 113mph, 3mph faster than Australia’s Phillip Island. An F1 simulation predicts lap speeds of 142mph, 5mph faster than the F1 circuit which hosts this year’s final GP and will exist alongside the MotoGP layout.
Former British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie believes the changes are a good thing. “The first positive is that they are sorting out the silly chicane at Woodcote,” said the Scot, who made his GP debut at the ultra-quick Silverstone of the 1980s and also raced on the much-modified track in the late ’90s. “I’m pleased that Woodcote is back in position; it’s always been a classic corner. The new track has also got five decent straights and some heavy braking, which means good passing opportunities, another positive.”
A date has yet to be fixed for Silverstone’s 2010 MotoGP race, the first in a five-year run. Mat Oxley