- Suzuka Circuit
Name = Suzuka International Racing Course | Location = Suzuka,
Mie Prefecture, Japan
Length_km = 5.807
Length_mi = 3.608
Turns = 17
Record_time = 1:29.599
Record_driver = flagicon|BRA
Record_year = 2006
Suzuka International Racing Course (Suzuka Circuit for short) is a co-host of the
Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix, and is one of the oldest and most famous motorsport race tracks in Japan. It is located in Suzuka City, Mie Prefectureand is owned by Honda Motor Co., Ltd..
Designed as a
Hondatest track in 1962 by John Hugenholtz, Suzuka is a unique circuit, being one of the very few in the world to have a figure 8layout. Obviously, due to the danger of an intersecting track, the track doesn't actually intersect with itself; instead, the back straight passes over the front section by means of an overpass. Due to its unique layout, Suzuka is a massive test of driver skill and is easily one of the most difficult racing circuits in the world. Nevertheless, the track is loved by drivers and spectators alike for its challenging design and many opportunities for overtaking.
Suzuka is one of the oldest remaining tracks on the Grand Prix circuit, and so has a long history of exciting races. Japan's traditional role as the penultimate or final Grand Prix of the season means numerous World Championships have been decided at the track.
Safety has been a concern at the circuit's 130R, a convert|130|m|ft|0 radius turn starting past the Crossover, following two tremendous accidents in 2002 and 2003. In 2002, Toyota driver
Allan McNishsuffered a high-speed crash through the bump, which sent him through a metal fence; fortunately, he was not seriously injured.
Track officials revised the 130R, which has been compared to Spa's Eau Rouge, redesigning it as a double-apex section, one with an convert|85|m|ft|0 radius, and then a second featuring a convert|340|m|ft|0 radius, leading to a much closer Casio Triangle (chicane), with the chicane becoming a "bus stop" type for motorcycles.
However, the problem continued for the new revised section. During the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, the track's first major event since the revisions,
MotoGPrider Daijiro Katowas killed when he crashed in the new section, on his way to the braking zone for the Casio Triangle. MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident.
The circuit can be used in three configurations; the full circuit, the "Suzuka East" and "Suzuka West" configuration. The "East" portion of the course consists of the pit straight to the first half of the Dunlop curve (turn 7), before leading back to the pit straight via a tight right-hander. The "West" course is made up of the other part of the full circuit, with the pitlane located at the straight before the 130R corner.
Suzuka was dropped from the 2007 Formula 1 calendar in favour of the Toyota owned Fuji Speedway, but continues to host other motorsport events including the
Suzuka 1000kmendurance race. Previously a part of multiple GTracing series including the now defunct Group Cclass of the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, the Suzuka 1000km as of 2006 is now a points round of the Super GTseries, and is the only race of such length in that series.
Another major motorsport event is the
Suzuka 8 Hoursfor motorcycles, which has been run since 1978. This event usually attracts big name riders and with the exception of 2005, due to the importance of the big name manufacturers involvement, the FIM ensures that no motorcycle races clash on the date. NASCARorganized a pair of exhibition 100-lap races on the East Circuit, a convert|1.4|mi|km|1 layout which utilizes the pit straight and esses, before rejoining the main circuit near the Casio Triangle. The cars were Winston Cup and Winston West Series cars and the field was by invitation for the two races, run after the 1996 and 1997 seasons. 1996 saw a dark day in NASCAR when during practice, pace car driver Elmo Langleydied of a heart attack in the Chevrolet CorvettePace Car at the esses during an evaluation run. In 1997, rain caused Goodyear to use rain tires in NASCAR for the first time.
Fuji Speedway, Suzuka Circuit was one of the four tracks featured in the video game " Pole Position II" (the first game featured only the Fuji track). The Suzuka Circuit was also featured in the " Final Lap" and the " Ferrari F355 Challenge" arcade games and video games like " Forza Motorsport 2", " Gran Turismo 4", " Gran Turismo 5 Prologue", "", Le Mans 24 Hours, MotoGP 3, MotoGP 4, "Tourist Trophy", Auto Modellistaand as the final race in Taito's racing game " Continental Circus". The circuit appears in most F1 games that have been published since 1987. The NASCAR version of the track was featured in " NASCAR 98".
Presumably due to licensing issues on Pole Position II, the track is referred to in the
Namco Museumversions as the "Wonder" Circuit, after Namco's "Wonder" series of amusement parks, despite its logo appearing on the startline flag mast since 1983. Under the same issue the open source game " TORCS" also has the track renamed as "Wheel-2".
Suzuka lost the 2007 and 2008 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix to the
Fuji Speedway(owned by Honda's perennial rival, Toyota Motor Corporation) after the latter underwent a transformation and redesign by famous race circuit designer Hermann Tilke.
The circuit will close for a year in order for the renovation to make it F1-compliant for F1|2009, with the last major event beforehand scheduled to take place on
November 18 2007. [cite journal |last=Bradley |first=Charles (ed.) |year=2007 |month=August |title=Suzuka to close for a year |journal=Autosport |volume=189 |issue=6 |pages=p.11 ] It has now been confirmed that Suzuka will alternate the Japanese Grand Prix with the Fuji Speedway from 2009. [ [http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2007/9/6729.html The Official Formula 1 Website ] ]
* [http://www.suzukacircuit.com/ Suzuka Circuit]
* [http://www.f1db.com/f1/page/Suzuka_International_Racing_Course Suzuka Circuit History and Statistics]
* [http://www.geocities.com/ciroalbertopabon/Circuitos_eng.htm Ciro Pabón's Racetracks] 3D views and virtual laps of all F1 circuits, including this one, via Google Earth
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Suzuka,%20Japan&om=1&ie=UTF8&z=15&ll=34.84424,136.532936&spn=0.015497,0.043259&t=k Satellite picture by Google Maps]
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