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Under-fire Austria MotoGP chicane ‘really what riders requested’

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The new chicane MotoGP is to use in from its next visit to the Red Bull Ring onwards has been dubbed as “really what the riders requested” by KTM’s Miguel Oliveira.

With the sequence of a long straight and the super-sharp Turn 3 having created safety concerns during the track’s time on the calendar – including the terrifying 2020 accident where Franco Morbidelli’s out-of-control Yamaha just threaded the needle between Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi as both turned in – the track owners have gone about introducing an alternate layout for motorcycle competition.

This has now been unveiled in full, featuring a pair of sharp corners, right then left, aimed at scrubbing off the speed on the straight.

The new design – which differs somewhat from the original plan for a considerably narrower chicane – appears to have received a pretty rocky reaction on social media, but riders have by and large proven much more positive about it when asked in the lead-up to this weekend’s MotoGP race at Termas de Rio Hondo.

“I think the direction of the change was really what riders requested,” Oliveira said. “We wanted to make the arrival to Turn 3 much slower, and with the chicane there is no better way to slow down the bike, to avoid having that funnel [into the corner], or especially braking at 300km/h with lean angle into Turn 3. I think the changes went into the direction that the riders requested, and [MotoGP promoter] Dorna – I think the track made an excellent effort to accomplish that in this period of time.

Red Bull Ring MotoGP chicane

“To build and to change [a section] is not that easy, especially being surrounded, that track, with so much nature and protected areas, and [to] still manage to have a good run-off area, not easy to compromise.

“I think we need all of us to make an effort to make that solution work, because after pushing so much the track to make a change and then use the normal version, I think it would’ve been a little bit of a waste of time.”

“For the security [safety], for sure it’s much better,” Yamaha’s reigning champion Fabio Quartararo agreed. “Because you always have a small moment in Turn 2, and it’s not great to have a moment in this corner. But first of all for the security will be better, and whatever chicane they can put from the straight, from my side this is great.”

Quartararo’s latter remark, a jokey reference to his Yamaha’s top-speed deficit, drew a boisterous laugh from Oliveira, as the Frenchman continued to crack wise: “So if we can ask [for a chicane] also here, this is nice. Everywhere with more than 800-metre straight we need a chicane, we arrive way too fast into the corner.”

Gresini Ducati rider Enea Bastianini did describe the layout as “really strange”, however, and Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco admitted it was “kind of a shock” seeing it mapped out. Both likened it to more of a Formula 1 layout – albeit F1 will continue to be using the original version.

Red Bull Ring chicane MotoGP

“We still have the straight in the middle of this chicane so I hope nobody forgets to do the chicane in FP1 in August [during the weekend],” Zarco quipped.

“The way it is, we’ll just have the time to arrive [to the chicane] in maybe fourth gear, maybe fifth, so we will not arrive too fast and do the chicane and arrive to the ex-Turn 3 also with low speed.”

Speaking to MotoGP.com, FIM safety officer Franco Uncini said he hadn’t yet had the chance to inspect the changes for himself, which is something he plans to do in mid-April.

“The circuit is one of the circuits that reacted to our request for the safety improvements, and it feels that they did a good job,” Uncini said.

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