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October 27th, 2016, 08:03 AM   #1
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MotoGP: 2016 Round 17 - Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (SPOILERS)



About the circuit

Specifically built for speed and exciting racing, the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia is one of the world’s best. The 2,300 acre complex which also houses a hotel, shopping centre, golf course and other sports facilities cost around £50m to construct and was built in just 14 months, holding its first Grand Prix in April 1999 and setting the standard for race circuits worldwide.

With four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium to high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable to overtaking manoeuvres and plenty of open throttle. One of the longest laps in MotoGP is made all the more gruelling for riders by intense heat and humidity. Sepang is located around 50km south of Kuala Lumpur city.


Following February's MotoGP test, the Sepang International Circuit underwent a complete resurfacing.

But the changes made to the venue, which is hosting the Malaysian World Superbike round this weekend, went far beyond simply replacing the asphalt.

Dromo, the circuit design company headed by Jarno Zaffelli, have also made subtle but significant modifications to nine sections of the circuit: Turn 1, Turn 2, Turn 3, Turn 4, Turns 5-6, Turns 7-8, Turn 9, Turns 13-14 and Turn 15.

Immediately after the first World Superbike session here at Sepang, Crash.net spoke to Zaffelli about the main areas that have been altered, and why.

“It's always exciting, the first time people ride on a track we've worked on. Especially when we've only just finished, because for example with Termas de Rio Hondo [Argentina's MotoGP venue] we finished two years before the first race. We finished the asphalt here on April 23,” Zaffelli said.

“It seems the riders are enjoining the new asphalt. I went out to watch all the lines in FP1 and it was a mess! Everybody taking different lines. That's good. It means it is challenging.”

The Italian was clear that the changes to Turn 15, the final hairpin, were the most significant.

Turn 15 changes at Sepang. Red new design, green old asphalt.

“The biggest change for the riders, other than the change of asphalt, is Turn 15. With the original shape water would collect on both the entry and exit of the corner.

“So to remove the water we have made a big camber change on the inside of the corner. There is now a 1m height difference from the old kerb compared to the new kerb. And to make it more interesting and challenging for the riders, the whole corner also rises towards the exit, like going uphill.

“In the picture you can see how the circuit was before (green) and after (red). So the whole track is flat on entry, then you have the camber change - falling away from the inside - while at the same time the track is starting to rise.

“The racing line is now completely different. Before they would hug the kerb on the inside, like a traditional racing line, but now if you do that the front will feel like it is going to close on the negative camber.

“So you have to try to go wide on entry, stay where the track is more flat, and then cut back and make more of a straight-line on the exit. But if you are wider it invites somebody to try to pass you on the inside. So the question is do you want to be fast, or do you want to keep your position?

“The corner will be safer because there is less chance of them losing the front just as they start to enter the corner. Now they are more likely to lose the front n the apex area, which is the slowest part of the corner. Also the riders can run wide on the entry and should not lose too much time.

“But the changes have also slowed down the corner as a whole, which in turn means that the top speed on the main straight is slower. We needed to slow down the speed on the main straight because the run-off cannot be extended in Turn 1 and they are going a bit too fast now, every year the speed rises.

“In FP1 you can see the top speed was 300km/h and before it was 308km/h. But the best lap time is exactly the same as in FP1 last year. This is because all of the other camber changes, in the other corners, have been to add positive camber. So they are a bit faster than before.

“Turn 15 is the only corner that has been made slower, because it is not possible to carry the same corner speed due to the camber change. Also now they already have their elbow down on the inside of the corner, because of the camber, so they cannot lean the bike over any more.

“So for the fans, motorcycles or cars, Turn 15 is the place to watch the races I would say. Which is perfect because it is close to the main grandstands. Also in the case of a wet race, the racing line should not have any puddles now, so there is a good chance of passing even in the wet.”

The other main area for overtaking is the braking area into Turn 9.

“Now there is camber around the corner, meaning you can brake less and push more. We wanted to give the riders more confidence to overtake because it is less easy to lose the front," Zaffelli said. “Turn 9 is also the place where I expect the most crashes at this track, followed by Turn 15, so we should have reduced the crashes by making these changes.”

A further noticeable modification is to Turn 5, the quick left-hand corner behind the pits (the place where James Toseland had a huge testing accident at Tech 3 Yamaha).

“T5 is the only fast corner on the left side. So there's a problem with balancing the tyre wear and the set-up of the bike or car. Normally they destroy the right hand side of the tyre a long time before the left. Turn 5 now has 200% more camber, exactly twice the previous amount.”

The width of the circuit is a constant 16m, meaning the white line on the outside of places such as Turn 1 and 15 has been moved inwards. The asphalt now beyond the white line, previously part of the track, now acts as part of the run--off area.

“Before it was designed to be wider 'so they can make an overtake'. No! It is not the width of the track that allows you to overtake. Now it is 16m wide everywhere and the riders or drivers feel more speed.”

Read more at MotoGP Feature - WorldSBK: Zaffelli explains ?new? Turn 15 at Sepang
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Last edited by moto vudu; October 27th, 2016 at 08:34 AM.
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October 27th, 2016, 08:31 AM   #2
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Many MotoGP riders have expressed surprise at the radical camber of the re-profiled final corner at the Sepang International Circuit, venue for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Not only has the whole circuit been resurfaced for this season's race, but changes have been made to nine sections of the track, with the most eye-catching at Turn 15.

The final corner now has a large amount of negative camber on the inside, to try and slow riders onto the following main straight and also to solve the issue of puddles forming.

With the exception of Cal Crutchlow, who tested at the circuit in July, riders got their first look at the redesign when they arrived fresh from last weekend's Phillip Island race.

"I was cycling the track and I thought my inside pedal touched the asphalt," said Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro. "The banking is so heavy. For me there is no sense to make the banking like this. The risk to crash is very, very high. I've never seen a corner like this."

Younger brother Pol Espargaro expressed a similar view and believes the corner could prove a particular challenge for the Michelin front.

"The change is so big. We don't have a type of corner like this during the whole season," said the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider. "It's negative [camber], but it's a lot. It's clear to see when you are walking, so you can imagine on the bike. It's huge.

"If you want to make a faster or more fun corner, you have to do positive [camber].

"The problem is that at some races we've faced some problems with the front tyres, with Michelin. So if here for whatever reason we have a problem with the front, it will be the most critical corner of the season."

Having ridden the turn, Australian Grand Prix winner Crutchlow described it as: "A strange corner now. The braking point is nearly the same, but with the drop in the track going down so much you really have to be patient with the exit.

"We saw in the Formula One, they were just going around the outside of the corner as much as possible to miss the banking. That doesn't really work on our bikes but we'll try it! We'll try every line.

"I didn't really think they needed to do that into the last corner, but it adds a bit more excitement I suppose for everyone."

While no rider likes negative camber, due to the loss of grip and therefore speed, the success of the corner re-design will ultimately come down to how well it controls top speeds on the straight (run-off at turn one cannot be extended) and prevents puddles.

The other concern raised by Crutchlow at the test was water seeping through the asphalt.

"It seems that maybe they might have been able to fix it. I don't know. But when there were only three bikes we were riding around really slow, way off the lap times of last year," said the LCR Honda rider.

"But we know from the World Superbike race, they were going faster than other years, so we know the grip is good once the track is clean. Hopefully the weather will stay dry this weekend, but it doesn't look like it at the moment…"

Either way, Pol Espargaro believes data from the pre-season test will no longer be relevant.

"The track is completely different. F1 was five seconds faster."
Read more at MotoGP News - MotoGP Malaysia: Riders surprised by 'new' final turn at Sepang
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October 27th, 2016, 08:49 AM   #3
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Got a really long downhill negative camber curve on my way to the motorway, bad in a car, terrible on a bike, can't believe they made a turn on a GP track negative camber. Drainage was their reason for doing it but they could have done a positive camber turn which would run the water off quickly and drain it away from the inside of the turn.
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October 27th, 2016, 08:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniboy View Post
Got a really long downhill negative camber curve on my way to the motorway, bad in a car, terrible on a bike, can't believe they made a turn on a GP track negative camber. Drainage was their reason for doing it but they could have done a positive camber turn which would run the water off quickly and drain it away from the inside of the turn.
Nothing wrong with off-camber turns. It's not detrimental to the racing at all.
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October 27th, 2016, 09:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by p4p1 View Post
Nothing wrong with off-camber turns. It's not detrimental to the racing at all.
It's easier to lose grip on negative camber turns, I can see a lot of crashes happening, I hope I'm wrong but it's more likely I'm not.
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October 27th, 2016, 09:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniboy View Post
Got a really long downhill negative camber curve on my way to the motorway, bad in a car, terrible on a bike, can't believe they made a turn on a GP track negative camber.
The Old Hairpin at Donington and Devils Elbow at Mallory immediately spring to mind. Easy to get caught out - the latter is lethal to those that aren't familiar with it because although it is a short lap, you are on the cooler side of the tyre. I agree on the road - there is a roundabout near me which is off-camber and it slingshots you wide and instills no confidence in the front end.
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October 27th, 2016, 09:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrabbiata1 View Post
The Old Hairpin at Donington and Devils Elbow at Mallory immediately spring to mind. Easy to get caught out - the latter is lethal to those that aren't familiar with it because although it is a short lap, you are on the cooler side of the tyre. I agree on the road - there is a roundabout near me which is off-camber and it slingshots you wide and instills no confidence in the front end.


Cadwell had a couple too, in the woodland section, you really had to fight the bike so as not to run wide.
The devils elbow was a wicked corner on a supermoto, the thing would be bucking and sliding towards the pit wall. Going flat out around Gerard's was a relief after the elbow!
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October 27th, 2016, 10:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniboy View Post
Got a really long downhill negative camber curve on my way to the motorway, bad in a car, terrible on a bike, can't believe they made a turn on a GP track negative camber. Drainage was their reason for doing it but they could have done a positive camber turn which would run the water off quickly and drain it away from the inside of the turn.
Wouldn't have addressed the standing water issue by going positive camber with the corner.

The other issue is by going positive camber, you increase corner speeds significantly. With increased corner speeds, you have what can turn into a dangerous corner. Before re-profiling that corner, iirc, GP bikes were running around 55-65MPH I believe. Going positive camber would easily make 75+MPH possible. You generally never hear about corner speeds being increased with circuit changes for a good reason because of the safety implications that come into play. In addition runoff area has to be increased to meet whatever FIA circuit grade they are aiming for.

Then you have the fact that a F1 race is run there and the corner needed to be designed with those cars in mind. Though I'm going to laugh if it turns out Malaysia decides to not re-up that contract in 2018. F1 cars next year are being projected to run 5 to 6 seconds faster a lap than the 2016 cars. That's absolutely mind-boggling. It's the difference between a GP2 car and a few of the midfield/backmarkers currently. Giving a F1 car a banked corner is a gift for increased speeds. F1 doesn't run the full Peraltada corner at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico any longer, opting to cut into the stadium and re-enter the corner on the second half. When they ran the circuit in the early 90s, it was a 5th gear, 150MPH corner positive camber corner. Senna had a nasty accident there in '91 when he was trying to take the corner flat in 6th gear. There was barely enough runoff to handle that then. Now, no runoff exists there now due to construction on the border of the circuit. A modern F1 car could take it flat in excess of 170MPH easily due to downforce gains.

So, there's more considerations at play here than simply just drainage.
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October 27th, 2016, 10:22 AM   #9
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Since we have proper thread now lets review some things that happened in tle last 2 days:

Iannone is back
Pedrosa isn't (Aoyama wil be warming up his bike)

I've never seen Rossi as tired as in today's press con. And it won't get any better with that tropical weather.

Guys are excited to see how much faster the track is going to be.

And we hope they will all be in one peace on Sunday afternoon. And I will be happy when this "tour" is over, I never sleep enough during this.
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October 27th, 2016, 11:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by JPSLotus View Post
Wouldn't have addressed the standing water issue by going positive camber with the corner.

The other issue is by going positive camber, you increase corner speeds significantly. With increased corner speeds, you have what can turn into a dangerous corner. Before re-profiling that corner, iirc, GP bikes were running around 55-65MPH I believe. Going positive camber would easily make 75+MPH possible. You generally never hear about corner speeds being increased with circuit changes for a good reason because of the safety implications that come into play. In addition runoff area has to be increased to meet whatever FIA circuit grade they are aiming for.

Then you have the fact that a F1 race is run there and the corner needed to be designed with those cars in mind. Though I'm going to laugh if it turns out Malaysia decides to not re-up that contract in 2018. F1 cars next year are being projected to run 5 to 6 seconds faster a lap than the 2016 cars. That's absolutely mind-boggling. It's the difference between a GP2 car and a few of the midfield/backmarkers currently. Giving a F1 car a banked corner is a gift for increased speeds. F1 doesn't run the full Peraltada corner at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico any longer, opting to cut into the stadium and re-enter the corner on the second half. When they ran the circuit in the early 90s, it was a 5th gear, 150MPH corner positive camber corner. Senna had a nasty accident there in '91 when he was trying to take the corner flat in 6th gear. There was barely enough runoff to handle that then. Now, no runoff exists there now due to construction on the border of the circuit. A modern F1 car could take it flat in excess of 170MPH easily due to downforce gains.

So, there's more considerations at play here than simply just drainage.
Speed depends on the degree of the banking, a flatter but positive camber of 5 ° would still allow water to run off(anything above 0 ° will allow that) and still keep speeds nearer to a flat camber corner.
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