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IndyCar Detroit

Split Detroit pits causing entry and exit issues for IndyCar drivers

IndyCar drivers say the unique split pitlane at Detroit’s new downtown street course is a “work in progress” after the opening practice sessions.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Due to space issues at the 1.7-mile, nine-turn track layout in the heart of the city, in the shadow of the General Motors Renaissance Center, the pitboxes have been split in two.

Half of the cars are serviced on either side, following a pitlane entry to driver’s right before Turn 9 that funnels the field in and then splits them in two. A blue line down the middle of the dual lanes acts as the median.

Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist felt this is the most tricky part of the process, as cars leave the track and enter the unique divided pitlane.

“When the sessions started, there were quite a lot of cars coming in, four-wide, into how do you say the funneling section?” he said. “It's kind of unique in that way because you have the pit speed limit off section is way further, like after the funnel.

“We're going to have to figure out who's going first in there. I think there's going to be some situations where people probably don't want to lift.”

Divided pit lane view

Divided pit lane view

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

When asked if he thought it might prove pivotal in Sunday’s race, Rosenqvist replied: “I mean, that's kind of what IndyCar is, that we battle it out on track. I think that's pretty cool. Yeah, let's hope it doesn't crash us in pit lane.”

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood was more positive about the layout, and said concerns about the tricky pitlane exit, which rejoins the track on the racing line for Turn 1, isn’t as bad as he thought.

“In my mindset, it's very safe,” said Kirkwood. “That's the most important part.

“It seems like pit exit was a concern for everyone yesterday, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be that big of an issue. I think everyone's pretty calm on exit. It's pretty easy to see a car coming out.

“To be honest, you can't really see the car that's on track so you're very reliant on the car that's on track to kind of give way, for you to just kind of stay out of the way. That was more the concern than the double pit lane.

“I think the double pit lane has been absolutely fine.”

Nevertheless, following feedback from drivers, the orange line that demarcates the pit exit from the cars on track has been angled towards the wall and shortened by three feet.

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward had raised the question of the pit exit causing an issue on qualifying laps, when cars leaving the pits might impede a driver on a hot lap.

“I think that's going to be interesting in the race with the blend line where it is,” he said. “I think the pit exit is going to be something to look out for in qualifying, like impeding.

“I don't know if they're going to mark it as impeding but it definitely gets you out of place if someone is sent there while you're on a flyer.

“A work in progress. Probably not a lot of space to work with. I know everybody is doing their best.”

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