Motorcycle turn by turn guide to the Laguna Seca track

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Track Map


Turn 1

Turn 1 is a fast left-hander over a blind crest immediately beyond the start-finish line. The fastest bikes are typically 'pinned' through the turn before braking for Turn 2 and tend to 'float' on the suspension as they cross the crest. External visual references are essential for correct line, and include utility poles off track that appear in the center of the rider's vision after passing under the bridge that crosses the track at the start-finish line. Plastic marker poles are often in place to delineate the pit-exit road to the left, and will be brushed by the rider's left shoulder at the apex of the turn.

Turn 2

Turn 2 is a double-apex, declining-radius, downhill left hander that causes riders considerable difficulty in braking at maximum effort after the high speeds attained on the straight and through Turn 1, and then deciding on Turn 2 line. Some riders--notably Jimmy Felice, in winning the first World 250-class race at Laguna Seca in 1988--used the extreme right side of the track before entry and touched only the second apex, but many riders double-apex the turn. Both methods work, but taking the extreme outside line makes a rider vulnerable to being 'stuffed' and an inside, defensive line is advisable in heavy traffic situations. Exiting Turn 2, the rider will graze the rumble strip that marks the edge of the track on the right, will accelerate briefly, point the bike directly at the left side of the track for the entry to Turn 3 and prepare to brake hard.

Turn 3

Turn 3, unlike Turn 2, is (as is Turn 4, see below) unbanked and flat. The rider must be careful not to attempt too high a corner speed: the risk here, demonstrated by many riders, is running off the track on the left.

Turn 4

Turn 4 is somewhat similar to Turn 3--flat, and unbanked, but faster. Before the track was resurfaced in 2006, a slight falling off on the exit line could perturb the bike and caused some riders (notably Carl Fogarty in the World Superbike event that preceded the MotoGP races) to run wide and leave the track. The exit of Turn 4 permits the rider to select a full-throttle line to the entry of Turn 5--the slight right kink between Turns 4 and 5, under the bridge, is not a factor in limiting speed. The bridge itself offers visual reference points but the advertising signs change frequently.

Turn 5

Turn 5 is a banked, constant-radius left-hander that before the 2006 resurfacing suffered from a ledge approximately two thirds of the way through the corner and half way across the track, requiring a tight line to avoid perturbing the bike if the rider approached or crossed the ledge. Many riders unfamiliar with the track have problems with Turn 5. At the exit of Turn 5, the rider sees only the bridge across the track and the blind crest before the Turn 6 entry.

Turn 6

Turn 6 is a very fast, strongly banked left hander that leads uphill to the second-fastest 'straight' that leads to the Corkscrew. If too high a corner speed is attempted, it is too easy to drift out towards the right hand exit where many riders have left the track, but the MotoGP improvements have provided much more runoff space on both sides of the track. Before the 2006 resurfacing and MotoGP track improvements, there was a dip between Turn 6 and the top of the hill, but this has been filled. In pre-MotoGP tests, local racer (Salinas) and track expert Doug Chandler described serious side-wind effects going up the hill, and this should be noted on the frequent windy days. After the exit of Turn 6, the rider will point the bike directly at the berm on the right side of the track at the blind crest of the Corkscrew, a simple visual reference. Using that direct route up the hill, the line will take the bike just to the edge of the rumble strip on the left. The front end of the bike tends to 'get light' up the hill and requires rider care in controlling the bike's attitude under strong acceleration.

Turn 7

Turn 7 is the left-hand segment of the Corkscrew and is entered from extreme track right, over a blind crest at the top of the hill. Bike position on entry is vital here, because an early apex will position the bike incorrectly for Turn 8 (see below), the right-hand portion of the Corkscrew, which is coupled inherently to Turn 7. If the rider early-apexes Turn 7, or attempts too high an entry speed, he or she will be faced with an immediate early apex to Turn 8, and will risk leaving the track to the right (Freddie Spencer did just this in a MotoGP event in the old, 500-cc two-stroke era). After a very brief moment when the track is basically level, at the crest where the apex of Turn 7 is touched, the rider will be prepared to plunge down the steep exit that is the entry to Turn 8.

Turn 8

Turn 8, a tight and moderately banked right hander, may be considered the Corkscrew proper. It is intimidating to riders unfamiliar with the track. It is easy to wheelie off the top of Turn 7, the entry to Turn 8, if throttle is applied too early, as the bike is accelerated hard off the crest and plunges down into the Corkscrew itself. Once the initial gradient has been traversed, the track flattens slightly and this permits plenty of throttle to be used, although momentarily, as one accelerates out of the turn. The sensible approach to the Corkscrew is to approach the limit carefully, after plenty of preliminary experimentation. The exit of Turn 8 is well banked, but the rider must be careful not to drift further to the left than approximately mid track, to be positioned properly for the entry to Turn 9. Mick Doohan fell here (low side) trying to force his Honda from the exit of the Corkscrew to the Turn 9 entry.

Turn 9

Turn 9, also known as Rainey Curve, is a well banked, constant-radius, downhill left hander taken at maximum acceleration as the rider leaves Turn 8. The linkage between Turn 8 and Turn 9 is critical, as is the entry to Turn 10 (see below) because the bike must change direction rapidly. Particular attention must be paid to not letting the bike drift too far out to the right-hand side of the track on the exit (Eddie Lawson left the track here in the early MotoGP series and was injured). The rider must be prepared to pull the bike back across the track hard, to enter the right-handed Turn 10 (see below). If the rider intends to enter the pit lane, track left opposite the Turn 9 apex, the decision should have been made well before entering Turn 9 and the rider should signal immediately upon exiting Turn 9 and stay all the way to track left with left arm raised or boot extended, to allow continuing bikes to pass safely on the right.

Turn 10

Turn 10 has been carved deeply into the hill on track right but its character remains the same: well banked, constant radius, entered downhill from Turn 9. Again, it is essential to link the exit of Turn 9 with the entry to Turn 10 and the exit to Turn 11 (see below).

Turn 11

Turn 11 is 100 degrees to the left, flat, and the slowest turn on the course. The previously dangerous exit, close to a concrete wall on the right, has been remedied. Caution: cars have in the past caused damage to the apex area and when this has been patched the rider may experience a different coefficient of friction in that patch. Care must be taken with entry speed after the relatively fast Turn 10, and in races this is a favorite passing spot via late braking and 'stuffing.' Riders carrying too much corner speed will run off track to the right. From the exit of Turn 11, it's a 'pinned' throttle and flat on the tank all the way under the bridge at the start-finish line. Faster bikes will enter Turn 1 from the right side of the track, and considerate riders will leave them room.