Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials unveiled Tuesday a revised, 13-turn road course for its new IndyCar road race next May and existing sports car race next July, a circuit that runs clockwise, or "backwards" from the famous oval, as Hoosiers like to say.
But the MotoGP race will continue to run counter-clockwise - the same direction as the oval - for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 8-10, 2014 but with significant changes to three areas of the circuit.
Turns 2-3-4 - the tight, ropey section inside Turn 1 of the oval - will be modified to create more constant radius corners and a much smoother, longer, faster transition at the exit of Turn 4 to the oval. Turn 7 - the 90-degree right-hander in the infield near the IMS Hall of Fame Museum - will be changed into more of a 45-degree dogleg, letting riders flick into the existing 45-degree dogleg left in Turn 8.
Otherwise, the current course remains unchanged until the final two corners. Turns 15 and 16, which were 90-degree right and left corners, respectively, will be modified into 45-degree flicks to create a smoother, faster transition back to the main straightaway of the IMS oval.
All three of those areas were the main crashing spots during each of the six previous Indianapolis GP's. Turn 4 and Turn 16 were the objects of scalding scorn by most riders. Some complained they were so slow that the quickest, safest way through was to pull the clutch lever and coast.
So those narcoleptic areas are gone, creating a more flowing circuit. Plus nothing sells at Indianapolis like speed, and there's a very good chance the fastest MotoGP bikes could reach 212 to 213 mph - 2 to 3 mph faster than this year's record trap speeds - at the end of the front straightaway due to the faster, smoother exit from Turn 16.
The course distance has changed by a few feet, from 2.621 miles to 2.645 miles.
But perhaps the most welcome change for the entire MotoGP paddock is the repaving of the entire infield section with one type of asphalt. That tarmac will be of different composition than the oval. But at least there will only be two kinds of asphalt at IMS instead of three or four different surfaces on the existing course, which created diabolical challenges and compromises for tire companies, engineers and riders.
The course reconstruction - for both the IndyCar-sports car circuit and the MotoGP circuit - is expected to be finished by December. That will give the surface an entire Midwestern winter to cure. Combine that with traffic on parts of the circuit from the IndyCar road race in early May and the sports car race in late July, and there should be better grip on the new asphalt than many expect.
Plus don't be surprised if some teams in all three classes are allowed to test before race week. The changes to the track layout may not be significant enough to warrant a special test from Dorna, but Bridgestone and Dunlop almost certainly will want to inhale data from testing on the new asphalt.