The move to Silverstone from Donington Park from 2010 on was announced earlier this week. It came as something of a surprise since, after years of criticism for its outdated infrastructure, Donington Park is embarking on a multi-million dollar upgrade. They’re also significantly changing the layout and not for the better, Stoner believes.
Stoner experienced the Northampshire circuit of Silverstone early on, when he began his career in the 125cc class of the British Championship. His memories are fond ones, but the track he’ll race on from 2010 won’t be the same.
Still, he believes Silverstone is a major motorsports center and that MotoGP will benefit from the move.
“I suppose until we ride there it’s hard to make an opinion, but it is a big home of motorsport and when I raced British championship I really, really enjoyed that track, but a couple of corners I don’t think will be in the grand prix plan which is kinda disappointing,” he said. “They were unbelievable. A heck of a lot of fun.”
The corners he remembers are the “last one that comes under the bridge before the final complex; left, left and then a long, long right. There’s a right that goes downhill under a bridge through there was a heck of a lot of fun. It comes over a rise, goes down under the bridge and turns right. That was a very good passing place, because people always have to bring it back and it’s always easy to get out underneath somebody there and there was some brilliant racing through there. But I think that corner is gone because they refuse to move the bridge and the bridge is not within the safety restrictions.”
Stoner also revealed that he and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen, who raced Silverstone in World Superbike, tried to influence the track change at the bridge by “saying what a great corner it is and we won’t have the dicky chicanes that World Superbike has there, no way.”
Until he rolls onto the track for the first time in the summer of 2010, he isn’t sure what to expect.
“Who knows until we get out there; it could be great or it could be terrible; you can’t be sure until you get out on the track,” he said.
Though he’s not sure what to expect at Silverstone, his opinion on the revised Donington Park layout is clear. Plans for Donington include eliminating the backstraight chicane, which would create a 200 mph straightaway to a downhill hairpin turn.
“That would be ridiculous,” he said. “Can you imagine that in the wet? Not a good idea. That track is bad enough in the wet. Can you imagine going that fast? People crash into the chicane anyway, a lot of people crash there. Imagine in the wet going flat chat down that straight into a hairpin. No thank you.”
Later, he added, “And maybe with the revised Donington, maybe they just want to put a straight in because everybody is sick of having no excuses for the Ducati at that track. We only use five gears at that track so it doesn’t have time to get wound up so they don’t have excuses that the bike is too fast.”