With just ten days to go for the inaugural MotoGP Bharat, a significant landmark was achieved with the Buddh International Circuit set to be homologated for the premier motorcycling racing event.
The circuit hosted three Formula One races from 2011 to 2013 and will welcome the premier motorcycling championship next weekend from September 22 to 24 as the 13th round of the 2023 MotoGP Championship.
Though the track was built to accommodate cars and bikes, modifications were needed at some corners apart from adding air fences and foam barriers to make it FIM compliant, which is required to hold a MotoGP race.
On Tuesday, the first images of the track after the face-lift showed some changes, like extending the gravel traps outside turn one to slow the bikes if they go off.
During a recent chat with The Hindu, Pushkar Nath Srivastava, the Chief Operating Officer of the race promoter Fairstreet Sports, gave an insight into the work done at the circuit to get it ready for the race.
“It was important to get FIA and FIM to agree on common ground around what can be done to make it suitable for cars and bikes. So, for example, at turn 1, we reduced the asphalt run-off and made the gravel trap bigger to reduce the speed when a rider goes off the track for better rider safety. We have done the same on the right-hand side of Turn 2 by replacing the grass with a huge amount of gravel,” he said.
“We have also increased gravel on the exit of turns 3, 4 and 5 to make it safer for bikes. The inner loop is also ready for bikes in turns 9 and 10. Turn 12, the penultimate corner, had the barriers pretty close to the track and has been moved back quite a bit to make it safer for the bikes on hard acceleration at the exit towards the final turn. All the turns have been changed in some way to make this circuit safer for motorcycle racing. Rider safety is the priority, and there is no compromise, “ Srivastava explained.
Recently, some riders had expressed reservations about the fence outside the last corner and said it would be challenging to go racing with that. However, Srivastava assured, “Everything was in our plan to move the fence there from the start. There was some speculation in the international media that it won’t be ready, but we have things under control.”
The back-straight between turns 3-4 has also been resurfaced, apart from some changes to kerbs to make it safe for bikes. Another significant change to the layout is that turns five and six have been made as one corner.
It is one of the longest straights on the calendar, measuring 1006 metres, and there is an expectation that bikes can hit a top speed of close to 370 kph.
Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM set the top-speed record earlier this year at Mugello, where he clocked 366.1 kph.
Carlos Ezpeleta, Chief Sporting Officer of Dorna Sports, added, “The changes made to the Buddh International Circuit are truly remarkable. We believe the circuit has the potential to register speed that could rewrite the MotoGP record books.”
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