Baltimore IndyCar: Track fix planned after bump drama

IndyCar is planning to make changes to the start of Baltimore's main straight in an effort to mitigate the effect of the bumps that forced Friday morning's opening practice session to be cut short

Baltimore IndyCar: Track fix planned after bump drama

Several cars were launched completely airborne by the bump, which lies just before a section of railway line on the main straight, prompting IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield to end the session 25 minutes early to consult with the drivers.

"Last year I know that there that there were some unofficial 'tests' performed where, when the drivers had some clear laps, they sent them straight past the chicane, and the feedback from that was that the few drivers that did try it thought that it would be appropriate to come back without the chicane," Barfield said.

"So that's what happened, and immediately upon letting cars out, the feedback came back to me that it wasn't doable.

"Based on driver input and what I saw from looking at the video, I thought it was appropriate to end the session early, talk to some drivers directly, get some input, and come up with a plan."

The problem appears to have been exacerbated by grinding work that was done to remove road markings, but inadvertently changed the profile of the track surface.

"It doesn't look like grinding that was intended to change the profile of the pavement," Barfield said. "But if you look at the profile of the pavement, the front edge before you get to the tracks, there's just enough of a lip that it bottoms out and launches the car."

The series originally planned to solve the problem by adding a temporary tyre barrier for practice two and then building a permanent chicane overnight. However Barfield is now optimistic that the situation can be addressed by regrinding the bump.

"After a quick evaluation from [track designer] NZR Consulting and the promoter [Andretti Sports Marketing], they've determined that there is a good possibility that some grinding could solve the problem," he said.

"We've got a grinder on site right now and we're waiting for approval from the city, and we're going to go out there and give that a try. We had talked about the possibility of a temporary chicane, and a permanent chicane that we would build tonight, and those possibilities are basically put aside if this grinding programme works and we can run with a smoother track."

Barfield said that a temporary barrier is on standby if the grinding work is unsuccessful.

Simon Pagenaud, who was one of the drivers affected, told AUTOSPORT that he had expected the bump to be significant, but that he was surprised by just how severe it is.

"It was worse than I thought," he said. "On the first lap I went through it pretty easy and backed off a bit, but it obviously wasn't easy enough.

"On the first lap I launched quite a bit, and the second lap was even worse. The danger is spinal injuries, because when I landed it was a super-big hit - probably the biggest hit I had in a race car."

The bump appears to have also exacted a toll on the cars, with suspicions from the Ganassi team that Charlie Kimball's engine failure during morning practice may have been triggered by damage caused by a heavy landing.

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Series IndyCar
Author Mark Glendenning
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