The Most Dangerous Turn at Laguna Seca Isn’t The Corkscrew
World Superbikes Champion Tom Sykes is one of the fastest men on two wheels. And when he’s racing at Monterey, the Corkscrew doesn’t scare him. But another corner does.
Iconic racetracks beget iconic corners. Spa’s Eau Rouge. Silverstone’s Stowe. The Nürburgring’s Karussell. But as a viewing of Three Amigos will lay bare, there is a profound difference between “famous” and “infamous.” Here, we ask a professional racer to reveal the lesser-known-yet-far-nastier bends at the world’s greatest tracks.
The Track: Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, California (2.23 miles, 11 turns)
Everybody Knows: Turn 8-8A, aka “The Corkscrew”
Everybody Fears: Turn 1
Tom Sykes, World Superbikes champion: “When I first raced there in 2013, everyone said, ‘Oh, watch out for The Corkscrew.’ Blah, blah, blah. The most courageous part of the circuit is Turn 1, just past the checkered flag. It’s about 160, 165 miles per hour, and it’s completely blind. Every lap, I start getting to that crest and think, "Oh shit, here we go again." Both wheels leave the tarmac. To have no contact with the world at 165 is a strange feeling. When the bike leaves, you have the rear trying to escape and high-side you. You feel the tire moving. And that really is your safety net. You’ve got to balance this movement of the tire, and how far off the ground you go, with the throttle position. It’s hard to have your reference and get it inch-perfect every time. It’s just so easy to get it wrong. Last year, I went a bit too tight on the left into the little plastic cones. They hit my leg, I thought they’d busted my knee. On the other hand, if you go slightly wide, you have to get a lot of lean angle on braking. Then it’s difficult to stop the bike. Fast and technical, with a lot of air. That is a man’s corner.”