Work to improve safety at the Sachsenring circuit has received FIM approval today, allowing construction to start to extend runoff at the track. The gravel traps at Turn 1 - at the end of the front straight - and Turn 10 - the fast left kink before cresting the hill at the top of the Waterfall - are to be extended to make the track safer, in response to requests from the MotoGP riders made in the Safety Commission.
Turn 1 was particularly notorious. It was at Turn 1 that Dani Pedrosa's 2008 title challenge came to a premature end, when the Spaniard crashed in the soaking rain, sliding along the track and hitting the air fence at the back of the gravel trap, fracturing his wrist in the process. Despite the shortness of the Sachenring's front straight, speeds reached on the approach to Turn 1 are high, and the gravel trap, at the end of a slight downhill section, is fractionally too short for the speeds which modern MotoGP machinery can reach along the front straight. Turn 1 was one of the main points raised in the Safety Commission when they met at the 2011 race in July last year.
The work is also a signal of a long-term commitment to holding the race at the Sachsenring for the foreseeable future. Negotiations on a five-year deal for the circuit are continuing, with the local government playing an active role in the talks. The importance of the race to the region is great - the German round of MotoGP sees 130,000 spectators attend on Sunday, bringing a welcome influx of spending to the area - and is underlined by the fact that the regional government of Saxony is footing the 1.5 million euro bill the circuit modifications require.
Below is the official press release issued by the Sachsenring Circuit:
Clearance for construction works at the Sachsenring circuit
Claude Danis, safety officer of the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) visited the Sachsenring circuit last Tuesday, 14th of February and gave the “go-ahead” for the construction works that are necessary in preparation of the German Motorcycle Grand Prix, that will take place from 6th to 8th of July 2012 at the Sachsenirng circuit.
The necessary construction works include the expansion of the gravel traps in two corners in order to make the circuit safer for the riders, who will reach speeds up to 300 km/h on this racetrack.
As announced earlier this year in a press release the Free State of Saxony supports this project with 1.5 Mio Euros and therefore gives the warrantee that the costs are within the planned budget. Wolfgang Streubel, the Manager of the SRM-Sachsenring-Rennstrecken-Management GmbH, is confident the construction works will take place during the appropriate timeframe, thanks to the expeditious clearance by the FIM and to the support of the government of Saxony.
The construction works include the expansion of two gravel traps as well as corrections on the line management of the crash barriers. The works should be concluded as far as possible by the end of April 2012.