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Jan 30, 2003

Infineon Raceway Makes Changes To Enhance Motorcycle Safety

From a press release issued by Infineon Raceway:

Infineon Raceway Begins Safety Enhancements
on Three Areas of Track for AMA Superbikes


SONOMA, Calif. (IMMEDIATE RELEASE)--Infineon Raceway began work this week on three track enhancements designed to increase rider safety for the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas, May 2-4.

Raceway officials have redesigned Turns 1, 10 and 11, further demonstrating the facility's commitment to making Infineon Raceway one of the safest tracks in the country for motorcycles. The redesigned portions will be used strictly by the AMA and the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. The traditional road course will be used for all other events at Infineon Raceway, including NASCAR Winston Cup and the American Le Mans Series.

Construction crews work on the 900-foot connector between turn 8a and turn 10 on the road course.

The changes were made with the aid of AMA Superbike riders Eric (Kawasaki) and Ben Bostrom (Honda), Miguel Duhamel (Honda), Aaron Yates (Suzuki), and AMA Road Race Manager Ron Barrick, who visited the track two months ago. The enhancements will be in place for an AMA Superbike test session at Infineon Raceway on March 20.

Turn 1 has been a sweeping left-hander, putting riders at a dangerous angle as they approach a pedestrian bridge at the apex of Turn 1. Once the work is complete, the track will be extended 50 feet in a straight line before entering Turn 1. Riders will then make a left turn at approximately 90 degrees, which is designed to direct them away from the bridge and up the circuit toward Turn 2.

"I think that the commitment the raceway is showing the riders is great," said Eric Bostrom, who placed second in the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship last season. "This place is going from one of the most dangerous tracks in the past to becoming one of the more safer tracks. The track is showing that it wants to make a commitment to rider safety and that's important. We don't see that everywhere we go."

The entry into Turn 10, considered the fastest segments of the road course with speeds approaching 160 mph, will also be altered to increase rider safety. As riders crest Turn 8A, they will no longer continue down the famous esses. Instead they will continue down a straight line for 900 feet, parallel with the Hillside Terraces at Turn 9, before making a 90-degree right-hand turn, followed by a sharp left-hand turn, which will blend them back with the original road course just before Turn 10. This alteration will slow the bikes down substantially, lowering the risk entering Turn 10.

The final safety enhancement will occur at Turn 11, which will see the entry shortened by approximately 40 feet. The change will direct riders away from the wall as they exit the hairpin turn and direct them toward the start/finish line. This marks the second change to Turn 11, which was shortened by two-tenths of one mile in 2000 to provide riders with nearly 300 additional feet of runoff room.

All three changes demonstrate Infineon Raceway's commitment to rider safety. Increased run-off was added at virtually every turn on the road course during a $50 million Modernization Plan, and the racing surface has also been permanently separated from the slick drag strip.

"I think the input from the riders is going to help make this placer safer, and that's the important thing," said Duhamel. "We want it safer and more fun for the riders but we also want it to be exciting for the fans. That's the ultimate mix. I'm just glad the track took the time to get our input."

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