The Laguna Seca Corkscrew can be scary but in the Superbike World Championship the Andretti Hairpin affects the brakes more

7/4/2017

 X-ray analysis of the application of Ducati and Kawasaki braking systems on the Californian track

Marco Melandri's return to victory having been entered into official records, the Superbike World Championship comes to the United States: from July 7th to 9th, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track will host the 8th Round of the World Championship. Situated on the Monterey peninsula, 150 km from San Francisco, the circuit was inaugurated on November 9th 1957 with a race won by a 500 TR Ferrari.

The track has changed 6 times from its inauguration but the latest version has not changed since 1996. Its distinctive feature is the continuous slope variations in gradient, from the well-known Corkscrew, a rapid left-right turn with an 18 meter drop in only 137 meters. Basically it is as if the motorcycles are jumping off of a 5-story building.

The track's extreme windiness and the lack of long straights prevents the Superbikes from reaching speeds of up to 270 km/h, which are instead exceeded on all the other 12 World Championship tracks. This results in lots of moderate braking, except for the second bend, the only one where the brakes are used for more than 4 seconds.

According to Brembo technicians, who work closely with 17 World Superbike riders, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an averagely demanding circuit for the brakes. On a scale from 1 to 5 it has been given a difficulty level of 3, the same as the one of the tracks that will host the next two Rounds, that is Lausitzring and Portimão.


 
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The demand on the brakes during the GP

Though this is the World Championship's shortest track (3.610 meters), brakes have to be used 10 times in each lap: the same amount as Aragon which is 5,077 meters long.

Laguna Seca also has the lowest lap time of the World Championship, with a total braking time of 29 seconds per lap.

Consequently the braking system is in action for 35 per cent of the racing time: the record in the racing season. Strangely enough, the record percentage for MotoGPs is held by another American circuit:

The Circuit of the Americas, with 38 per cent. Half of the 10 braking distances on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are less than 100 meters and only one exceeds 200 meters.

The average deceleration is the lowest in the World Championship, only 1,01 g, thanks to 3 bends with 0,8 g rating and just as many with 1 g.

The total force exerted by a rider on the brake lever from the start to the checkered flag exceeds 1,000 kilos - equal to the weight of some sixty coyotes.


 

The most demanding braking sections

Out of the 10 braking areas of the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway only one is considered highly demanding on the brakes, 6 are of medium difficulty and 3 are light. The most demanding of all is the Andretti Hairpin (turn 2) because besides being the fastest point on the circuit it is also on a slight downslope: the Superbikes reach it at 256 km/h and brake for 5,1 seconds to slow to 75 km/h.

They manage to do so in just 207 meters, less than the height of each of the Golden Gate Bridge towers. MotoGP motorbikes can brake in a shorted space thanks to carbon discs, but the Superbikes can only use steel discs with 2% carbon. The riders put 5,7 kg pressure on the brake lever and are subjected to a 1,3 g deceleration.

At that point the pressure of Brembo liquid in the braking system touches 12,2 bar. The braking section at turn 5 is also very long: 167 meters to come down from 232 km/h to 105 km/h.

The pressure of the braking liquid is however 9,3 bar, less than 10,5 bar at turn 7 where the entry speed (228 km/h) and the end of braking speed (126 km/h) are greater.

The Corkscrew deserves a special mention, the scene of famous passes of Casey Stoner by Valentino Rossi, and of Rossi by Marc Marquez. The Superbikes enter the corner at 123 km/h and brake for 61 meters to reduce their speed to 76 km/h in 2,3 seconds.
The pressure on the brake lever this time is 3 kg.

 

 

Brembo performance

Since the Superbikes returned to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2003, bikes with Brembo brakes have never failed to win: 4 wins for Kawasaki, 2 each for Aprilia and Ducati. The rider with most wins is Tom Sykes with three victories.

In total Ducati have won 12, but only two riders have won two in a row: Ben Bostrom in 2001 and Chaz Davies in 2015.


 

Brembo S.p.A. | P.IVA 00222620163

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