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Jun 7, 2003

Riders Comment On New Bend At Road America

Copyright 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>The new Bend chicane on the back section of Road America's four-mile natural-terrain road course is receiving mostly positive comments from AMA riders.<BR><BR>The new, low-gear chicane follows the Carousel and offers a safer alternative then the infamous Kink for sanctioning bodies, particularly FIM, according to Road America Communications Manager Cheryl Barnes. <BR><BR>The 90-degree-left-105-degree-right chicane slows, then straightens riders before passing through a section called the Kink, which riders had previously gone through at 120-plus-mph with a concrete wall just a few feet off the racing surface to the outside of the corner. <BR><BR>Most riders felt the new Bend, although slow, was definitely safer and most said it was well done.<BR><BR>"I think it's good, safer," said Bruce Transportation Group Honda's Marty Craggill. "It's very slow, first gear, but they did a good job. It's smooth, no lips or nothing. The only problem is there's nothing (curbs) on the inside."<BR><BR>"The asphalt looks pretty smooth," said Millennium Technologies/Kaufman Trailers' Shawn Higbee. "It seems to have a little less grip than the other pavement, but it should come in once we get some rubber down. I'm a little bit disappointed that it's still so close to the wall. There's Airfence and everything out there, but I would've thought that if they were going to reconstruct it they would've given us a lot more room at the exit there. It's definitely slower, which technically should be safer, but anytime there's a wall within reach it's not good."<BR><BR>"Obviously, safety was an issue," said Miguel Duhamel. "I wish we could've kept the same corner with more run-off room. The Kink was a real manhood tester. But they did a good job. You can tell they spent some time and money on it. Considering what we've seen done at places like Sears Point and Road Atlanta, this is better. But they need to put some curbs in there for real."<BR><BR>"Thankfully they've done a really good job and kept it flowing and made it safer for us," said Anthony Gobert. "The racetracks like Sears Point and (Road) Atlanta have ruined their racetracks by adding stop-start chicanes. I'm quite happy with it."<BR><BR>"They don't have the curbings in yet, but that's all it needs," said Larry Pegram, who added that the grip in the Bend was good in the wet.<BR><BR>"I remember liking the old track going through the Kink," said Ben Bostrom, "but the new chicane is safer."<BR><BR>But opinions differed on the new section.<BR><BR>"I think it sucks," bluntly stated Craig Connell. "It's slow. It's horrible. Before, this track was the best in the States. Now, that (new section) has taken all of the character away." Connell claimed that the new chicane held the potential to be as dangerous as the old Kink. "I think (the Bend) could have issues of its own. If two guys come together, sort of speak, you could still have a situation where an innocent guy gets hurt pretty bad. You know, like losing it going in and then going straight across and coming across the exit. I think it (the Kink) was much better before even with the wall there." <BR><BR>Few people, however, can match Matt Wait's experience with the old Kink. Wait crashed his Fast By Ferracci Ducati Superbike into the wall outside of the Kink head-first during in a wet AMA Superbike race in 1999 and was airlifted out with a broken neck.<BR><BR>"The new chicane is pretty good," said Wait. "On the edge it needs some curbing, because right now it's just asphalt then dirt. It would be nice to have an apron to run out on. It's pretty abrupt. It comes up pretty quick and then it's pretty sharp once you get in it, but it's definitely beneficial to not have injuries from going into the wall. You pretty much avoid it entirely now. You pretty much come to a stop and then you're just going straight. It's completely safer now."<BR><BR>The wall in question cannot be moved because Road America's property line is just behind it, and a stream and active railroad tracks are just beyond the property line.<BR>
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