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IndyCar drivers want Toronto track to revert to pre-2016 layout

Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal are all hoping next year’s Toronto street course around Exhibition Place can return to its ‘classic’ layout.

Atmosphere

Photo by: Perry Nelson / Motorsport Images

Construction work for the Toronto X hotel in 2016 obliged organisers to ask track designer Tony Cotman to substantially alter the final sector of the course, as well as shifting the pitlane from driver’s right to driver’s left.

The result is a pitlane that arcs sharp left on entry at Turn 9, then right at Turn 10, then left at pit exit off the final corner. The fiddly nature of the pitlane is exacerbated by how compressed the pitboxes have to be with 25 cars present, and only the absence of AJ Foyt Racing’s #11 entry usually driven by Tatiana Calderon prevented a more severe problem.

As IndyCar returned to Canada for the first time since 2019, following relaxation of travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the series has noted the observations from the teams and drivers, and president Jay Frye has vowed to make changes where possible for 2023.

“It's a double-edged sword, right?” Andretti Autosport’s Rossi said. “You want to have a big field and you want to have as much health in the series as possible. But there is also the other side of it. Logistically it's very, very challenging at places. This is certainly one of them.

“It's a lot of work. It's a lot of work for the crews, as well. They can't even get set up because they have a movable wall. They're doing the best they can with the situation but it's tough.”

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Perry Nelson / Motorsport Images

Rahal observed: “I can't even see my timing stand, it's pushed back so far. The growth trajectory of the series for next year, too, I hope they're getting ahead of it now, because this isn't acceptable really. It's OK, we'll get through, but it's pretty dangerous with the guys and the pitstops and things like that. I hope for next year there's a bit of a rethink about the way that we do this.”

He later added: “Pitlane under yellow, where everybody is stopping at the same time. [It] could be hell.”

Rossi compared the current Toronto layout unfavourably with other street courses on the IndyCar schedule saying that “the last three corners is what makes it tough from an enjoyment standpoint,” while Rahal said: “the track was significantly more fun the other way. Not even close. Yeah, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I wish we could go back tomorrow and run the old track. I understand there are challenges there.

“But I also think the construction of the hotel has come to a close. I hope for the health of this race which clearly has a massive draw in town and nationally, I hope that we can do the things necessary to get back to that. The track was much more enjoyable to drive. I'd like to see it back.”

Team Penske driver Newgarden concurred, saying: “To Graham's point, now that the construction is done with the hotel, the infrastructure is in place. If there's a way to move it back closer to what we had, I think everybody would want that.

“Obviously the promoters had their hands tied. This is not a knock on what they did: they had to do what they had to do to keep the event alive. [But] the older set-up was much better. If there's a way we can move it back to the other side, it's definitely preferred.

“They're going to have to do something at this point. We're talking about the marketplace, the health of the series. I think car count is going to be an issue when you look at this pitlane next year. There's going to be some solution that has to be found. I'm sure they will because the health of the series is strong.”

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