As part of preparations for next year's return of the MotoGP World Championship to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 8-10, the Turn 9 bridge was relocated approximately 440 feet up the track toward the signature Corkscrew turn today in order to increase the Turn 9 run-off area.
Moving the bridge allows for the excavation of 35,000 cubic yards of dirt from the hillside on the right side of Turn 9 to create up to an additional 175 feet of run-off room in the impact area on the outside of the turn, also known as Rainey Curve in honor of three-time motorcycle world champion and Monterey resident Wayne Rainey who was present for today's relocation.
The Turn 9 project is the first of several changes mandated by the Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM), the worldwide governing body for motorcycle racing, including the MotoGP World Championship. Those changes include improving run-off areas, replacing curbing and widening a portion of the front straight. The track will shut down between May 2 and June 15 to complete the changes. The improvements, funded by Yamaha Motor Corporation USA, will not affect the configuration of the world-renowned 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course.
Wednesday (Dec. 22), the 150-foot bridge was lifted from its previous location and rotated clockwise 90 degrees. One end of the bridge was placed on a purpose-built "rear" trailer and the other end was placed on a separate trailer that was attached to a normal road-going semi-type truck. The special rig transported the bridge near its new location.
Today, the two cranes hoisted and placed the bridge in its new location, between its previous home at Turn 9 and the exit of Turn 8A (the right-hand portion of the left-right Corkscrew turn).
"Today is a significant milestone on the road to bringing the MotoGP World Championship back to the USA," said Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "I'd like to thank our track operations staff, supporting engineers and contractors, Monterey County Parks Dept., our friends at Dorna and Yamaha, and, of course, our fans for making today a reality. It will only be a matter of months before we'll get to see Valentino Rossi (reigning MotoGP World Champion) and our American riders Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, John Hopkins and Kenny Roberts Jr. plunging down the Corkscrew at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix."
"We are thrilled to see the work beginning and this event coming closer to reality. The anticipation and enthusiasm from each and every employee at Yamaha, our customers, and American fans has been building since the announcement," said Bob Starr, Corporate Communications Manager at Yamaha Motor Corp. "Plus, with our 50th anniversary celebration beginning in just a few days, we've got one very exciting year ahead of us."
"Moving the Turn 9 bridge will have a huge visual impact for both the riders and the fans," Rainey said. "Rainey Curve, which I've always considered the most demanding corner on the circuit, just got more challenging for the racers. With the bridge moved and additional run-off area being created, riders will have nothing to distract them and will be totally focused on maximizing their speed through the corner. And for the fans, the bridge will no longer obstruct their view as the bikes go through the turn."
Support events for next season's Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, round nine of 17 in the 2005 MotoGP World Championship, include the AMA U.S. Superbike Championship, BMW Motorrad Cup and Super Stars of Super Karts. Additional AMA support events will be announced in the near future.
More information, including digital images of the current bridge relocation project, is available online www.laguna-seca.com