The Red Bull Ring, faster than ever
This circuit joined MotoGP in 2016, so switching the direction of the race wouldn’t be too drastic of a change for the more seasoned riders. Even so, the circuit would be completely transformed. It would still be a very fast-paced circuit, and riders would probably hit some of the highest top speeds. You would come out of turn 8 dramatically picking up speed until turn 10, thanks to the 50-metre descent between the two turns. After rounding turn 10, which wouldn’t be particularly slow either, you would continue racing downhill until the final stretch, when the circuit would start going uphill toward turn 1.
The main difference with the real Red Bull Ring is that nearly the entire track would be uphill, so the average speed would be lower and it would be harder to warm up the front tyre, making the tyre selection much more crucial for the teams.
MotorLand and a new spin on the corkscrew
The first thing we realised when we turned MotorLand round was that the circuit would be much faster in both top speed and average speed. The straight between turns 2 and 3 would force riders to brake more, but if you play your cards right it would be easier to tackle the following section, so you could go faster. The real problems would come once you arrive at the most technically demanding part of the circuit.
No matter which way you’re racing round the track, there are two very complicated turns, but going the wrong way round makes them even more difficult as you would be travelling uphill. Once you got to turn 9, you’d need to brake while going uphill toward turn 8, making the front section of the bike all too critical. Passing through the corkscrew, you would also approach the final section more quickly in this direction.
Sachsenring and the leap of faith
This German track is famous for being the circuit with the least number of right turns — this means that on the current track, the the right side of the tyre loses grip at turn 11 (turn 3 in the image). If we flip this round, the tyre issue would be small potatoes compared to the fact that the turn in question would be an uphill blind turn, making the bike likely to lift off the track. Taking this blind turn at top speed would sometimes literally be a leap of faith.
Another thing to keep in mind is that as you come out of the turn, you’re heading straight for a fence. Since you can’t see this till you’re out of the turn, it’s crucially important not to make any mistakes. Luckily, and thanks to the MotoGP safety regulations, the only place we would even think about riding through the Sachsenring backwards in our imagination.
Motegi through the looking glass
As it’s a stop and go circuit, there’s not much difference between riding in one direction or the other. Still, some things would change, so everything would be familiar but different. Victory Corner, which is usually the last turn, would be first, so it wouldn’t make much sense to call it that. In our inverted version of Motegi, we would call it Take Off Corner, and for good reason, as we would find ourselves on an uphill slope shortly thereafter. This section, which is normally downhill, would also need a name change from Downhill Straight to Uphill Straight.
Racing in this direction, the route wouldn’t require as much aggressive braking, as the downhill that usually calls for intensive breaking would be eliminated. This raises an interesting question: would this version of Motegi still need to require riders to use the biggest brake discs?
This is nothing more than a creative thought experiment to show us how changing something as simple as the race direction can have such drastic effects on the competition. Who knows? Everything changes in MotoGP, and perhaps some day one of these imaginary tracks will be real.