Barcelona Circuit Modifies MotoGP Layout, Moves F1 Chicane

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home to the Barcelona round of MotoGP, has agreed a new track layout to be used for MotoGP from now on. After consultation with the FIM and the FIA, the circuit has settled upon a slightly revised version of the F1 layout used during the race at Barcelona this year, with the chicane at the (new) Turn 14 and Turn 15 having been moved several meters closer to the (new) Turn 13, providing more run off at the chicane.

The new layout confirms the use of the F1 layout after Turn 9, the right hander leading on to the back straight. The old layout of La Caixa, the long left hander of Turn 10, is to be replaced by the much sharper left of Turn 10, followed by a shallow flick of Turn 11. After the long right hander (now Turn 12 instead of Turn 11 on the classic MotoGP layout), the tighter entrance to Turn 13 follows, still following the layout used by F1. 

From Turn 13, the F1 and new MotoGP layouts differ, with Turn 14 moved closer to Turn 13, to allow more space at the side of Turn 14, and more runoff into the chicane. After the exit of Turn 15, the bikes head back to the glorious final corner and back on to the straight. The changes are illustrated in the image shared on Twitter by Movistar MotoGP journalist Izaskun Ruiz:

The changes have come in the wake of the tragic death of Luis Salom at the circuit during Moto2 practice on the weekend of the Barcelona round of MotoGP. Salom lost control of his Kalex exiting the old Turn 11 and slid across a tarmac section at Turn 12, hitting his own bike first, and then the barrier. There was neither gravel nor air fence at that point, because it was a highly unusual place for a rider to crash.

For the race weekend, the layout was changed to use the standard F1 layout, but the chicane at Turn 14 and Turn 15 was felt to be too close to the wall on the inside of Turn 14, and to not have enough runoff at Turn 15. That was solved temporarily by painting a line on the track to narrow the entry and slow the bikes down. 

The new layout is a more permanent fix to the problems at the circuit. The shorter run up to Turn 14 means the issues with runoff no longer exist. The earlier exit from Turn 15 should also make the final corner a little faster, and give back some of the speed along the straight. 

The change does mean a permanent end to two of the great corners in motorcycle racing. The old Turn 10, La Caixa, was a long, medium speed left hander with passing opportunities both on entry and in mid corner. The new Turn 10 features much harder braking, offering a passing opportunity on the brakes, but there is little chance to fight back on corner exit. The old corner was dropped because the turn was running out of runoff. Bikes that crashed there were starting to reach the barrier, and despite the air fence at the corner, this was a matter of concern for the Safety Commission and Race Direction. The new corner creates a lot more runoff.

The greatest loss is Turn 12, which was another fast right hander, the kind of corner for which the Barcelona circuit is famous. Though the lack of gravel and air fence were major contributors to Luis Salom's death, the main problem is that the grandstands are too close to the edge of the track at that point. The physical geography of the circuit makes alterations there very difficult, and very expensive. There is no real room to push the grandstands back, as there is an interior road behind it, set on a downhill slope. The only solution would be a raised grandstand in the style of Assen's GT grandstand, but that is a very expensive solution, one for which the circuit lacks the funds in the short term. 

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Comments

I usually applaud safety improvements but this just feels like ruining a track for no good reason.

Total votes: 54

The reason is probably so that no one else dies 

Total votes: 48

How do you figure that?  The accident may not be preventable but hitting the barrier is.  There was no barrier involved in poor Marco's accident so I fail to see how that is in any way relevant.

Total votes: 27

But preventing it recurring is exactly what they've done and would have prevented it happening had the change been sooner. 

I'm also disappointed for the change but it's worth it. 

Total votes: 34

Sincere and well thought out safety advancements are always welcome. This death, while tragic, is not out of the realm of possibility every time anyone goes out on the track. I believe it could be reasonably argued that the mid-event track modifications implemented that weekend increased risk. Changing the track in the off season. That is fair and safe for all, although I'd state, even with no experience on either layout, that I prefer the original layout.

Total votes: 31

Change had to be agreed and implemented David. RIP Mexicano :( Well done FIM FIA :)

I am like you in this respect. I do not like seeing the traditional circuits with history and memories, sliced and diced to suit F1, or TV, or whatever. History is lost.    However :-

When a fatality occurs, risk assesment worst case scenario box is ticked. 'FATALITY'. Likelihood and Frequency boxes are ticked. Likelihood is calculated on frequency of near miss incidents, previous reports, ect. It is now a 'has happened' incident investigation.

If the circuit owners are not prepared to remove F1 tarmac runoff for gravel traps, or sacrifice some paying seats in the identified danger zone, to prevent a repeat incident, we will see circuits continue to be sliced and diced. More 'Mickey Mouse' chicanes, which create their own hazards with out of control riders or bikes crossing paths ect.

Bring back gravel traps. Riders will not take big chances when they know the penalty for overdoing it is many places lostas they regain control and rejoin the circuit. Race direction will still sort out the 'Banzai' moves where another is ran off, as is done now. I believe it will be much safer for all concerned.

Total votes: 45