AMA Pro Racing announced today that the Daytona International Speedway course will be run in a different configuration (shown above) for next year’s Daytona 200. The following is an excerpt from the press release:
The new configuration will exclude NASCAR Turns 1 and 2 and will shorten the course to approximately 3.0 miles. The previous length of the motorcycle course was 3.56 miles. The Daytona 200 By Arai, scheduled for Saturday, March 12, will now be 67 laps instead of 57.
The infield portion of the course has also been altered with the exit of the infield now located after NASCAR Turn 2.
This layout change is apparently an attempt to increase safety by reducing tire temperatures. Daytona is unique among AMA road racing circuits in the demands it places on tires – in the former configuration, superbikes were basically flat-out in top gear all the way around the banking. These high speeds generate intense tire heat, and the tires are stressed even further by the G forces created when accelerating on a heavily banked turn.
Tire failures during testing prior to this year’s Daytona 200 (see our article here) were blamed on the intense stress Daytona places on tires. This reconfiguration will not entirely alleviate those problems, as tire manufacturers still say the highest tire temperatures are reached between the banking and the finish line. However, eliminating Nascar turns 1 and 2 will cut the time bikes spend on the left side of the tire, as well as the time they spend under G-load from the banking. This can only improve tire durability.