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Tracking the track: Keeping the rubber on the road

Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, rear, drives to first place during a yellow flag following a crash at Turn 3, as Ed Carpenter waits to be put back in the race at the Honda IndyCar race in Toronto on July 8, 2012.


Although the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place only has four hard braking zones, all come immediately after a high-speed section. Getting them right is critical to success.

Coincidentally, two of the hard-braking zones – Turns 1 and 3 – are also prime passing zones on the 11-turn circuit, which means they are often the scene of mangled cars and shattered carbon fibre. In the past four IndyCar tilts at Exhibition Place, a total of 28 cars have been involved in accidents at these two turns.

And that kind of carnage goes for all the racing series on track this weekend in Toronto, not just the top-flight IndyCars.

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As with most accidents, speed is always a factor. The start-finish straight before the first turn sees the drivers hit almost 260 km/h before they need to get on the brakes to negotiate the sweeping right-hand corner. Complicating things are some nasty bumps in the braking zone and an ice-like slippery concrete patch in the middle of the turn that threatens to send drivers sliding into the wall. Get the first corner wrong and racers will tumble down the leaderboard on the long and fast Lake Shore Boulevard straight that follows the kink called Turn 2.

Turn 3 is a prime overtaking area where much of the action happens on the Toronto course. A driver trying to out-duel a rival often find his car's nose buried in the tire barrier on the outside of the turn. But it's the deceleration that makes Turn 3 difficult, because the cars slow from about 280 km/h on the straight to 70km/h for the 90-degree turn – in less than 1.5 times the length of a football field, with four times gravity pushing them forward in their seat.

There is one heavier braking zone at Turn 8, where the cars go from 240 km/h to about 100 km/h in less than two seconds, but it is really not a place where passes are common.

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