Monterey By the Numbers

May 20, 2010

Monterey By the Numbers

May 20, 2010

The track map at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Monterey by the numbers:

Track length 2.238 miles

Race length 6 Hours

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is only three tenths of a mile longer than the last round in Long Beach, Calif., but it is a completely different animal.

The 2.238-mile, 11-turn permanent road course situated near Monterey has been a fixture on the ALMS schedule since the series’ inception in 1999. The counter-clockwise circuit is set in a basin and is surrounded by sand on all sides, punishing any mistakes. There’s a 180-foot differential between the highest and lowest points on the track, with various elevation changes throughout the lap.

It’s also a very narrow circuit, with two prime passing opportunities. The best spots to overtake are at Turn 2, the Andretti Hairpin, and the legendary Corkscrew, but we’ll get to that corner in a bit.

Cars begin the lap by cresting the hill on the front straight, going underneath the start/finish line and bridge before diving down left through a kink (Turn 1) and further downhill through the 180-degree Turn 2. That winds into a flat portion of the track, a right hand kink into Turn 3, then under another bridge and right hander at Turn 4.

After Turn 4, the field begins the climb back uphill through this stretch, with another kink leading into Turn 5, a slightly banked left hander that leads cars back up the hill. A fast Turn 6, another left hander, waits after a short blast and short climb. From there it’s a little further climb on Rahal Straight to the top of the hill, through a right-hand kink (Turn 7) and into the track’s signature corner – the Corkscrew.

The Corkscrew is set up by a blind approach. Drivers go from looking at the sky, then turning right, braking, and then immediately entering the substantial drop with a left hand turn. From there, it’s immediately back right, left (Turn 9, Rainey Curve), and right again all with very short straights to break up the turns.

A final run through the right hand Turn 10 leads into the tightest and slowest corner on the circuit, Turn 11. Cars launch out of the final corner and then back on the front straight, and continue the run.

Practice into dusk this evening will give drivers and teams a great outlook of what to expect with the conditions in advance of the six-hour race.

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