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Suzuka Circuit - Formula One race-track, Suzuka City, Japan

January 21st, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Suzuka Circuit is the host of the Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix and one of the oldest and most-famous racing circuits in Japan. It is located in Suzuka City in Mie Prefecture.

Designed as a Honda test track in 1962 by John Hugenholz, Suzuka is a unique circuit, being one of the very few in the world to have a figure 8 layout. Naturally, the track doesn't actually intersect with itself; instead, the backstraight 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 spectactors 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 130-meter radius turn starting past the Crossover, following two tremendous accidents in 2002 and 2003. In 2002, Toyota driver Allan McNish suffered a high-speed crash through the bump, which sent him through a metal fence; fortunately, he was not seriously injured.

Track officials eliminated the turn, which has been compared to Spa's Eau Rouge, and replaced with a double-apex section, one with a 85 meter radius, and then a second featuring a 340-meter 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 secton. During the track's first major event since the revisions during the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato was killed when he crashed in the new section headed to the braking zone for the Casio Triangle. MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident.

The circuits other major event is the Suzuka 8 Hours for 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.

NASCAR organised a pair of exhibition 100-lap races on the East Circuit, a 1.4 mile layout which utilises 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 Langley died of a heart attack in the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car at the esses during an evaluation run. In 1997, rain caused Goodyear to use rain tires in NASCAR for the first time.

Along with the Fuji Speedway, the 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 arcade game and video games like Gran Turismo 4 and R: Racing Evolution.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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