It was an interesting first day of private testing at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas for the five MotoGP riders that are taking part in the private test that was originally organized by Repsol Honda.
On the unknown Formula 1 track that was designed by Hermann Tilke (with a little help by Kevin Schwantz), Marc Marquez was the fastest rider of the day and showing that being young and slightly less cautious than his older counterparts has its advantages in learning the intricacies of the 5.5 km long circuit with its 20 corners and different elevations.
The riders besides finding a base set-up are also advising Bridgestone on which tires the Japanese manufacturer will have to bring to the round in order to cope with the abrasive surface.
Lap times are expected to drop today [Wednesday] and on Thursday, even if Yamaha’s team director Massimo Meregalli has stated that if they gather all the information they need then they will skip the final day of testing, which considering all the money they’ve dished out to test in Texas, they should at least take advantage of all the time they can get at the demanding circuit.
Marc Marquez - 1st
“The first day in Austin went pretty well. It is a fun circuit, because there’s not a single bump on the track. There was no grip at the start and we were sliding around a lot, but gradually the lines were cleaned up and we could tackle it better. In the first part of the track, where the flowing chicanes are all linked up, it is a very tricky section. It is a physically demanding part of the circuit where you have to use a lot of strength to change direction quickly. It is definitely a key point of the track. There are three right-handers later on, all linked together, making it hard to find the ideal line. We are finding our way steadily though. Today was all about learning those lines, rather than trying out too many things with the bike. Tomorrow we will start to adapt the gearing and the electronics, as we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Dani Pedrosa - 2nd
“It is a new circuit -and a very different one at that. This makes it important to put in plenty of laps, to get your reference points established: Braking markers, gear changes, finding out whether you are best off in second or third gear -things like that. It was good to ride a lot of laps today, and also to see how the tyres faired. The track has a lot of tight corners -above all Turn 1- but there are also flowing chicanes and some long straights. The pace and direction changes from section to section, which is a little strange at first. However, after so many laps, you get the hang of the track. Even if the grip levels aren’t especially good, the overall feeling is positive.”
Jorge Lorenzo - 3rd
“In the beginning it was difficult to understand the lines but I have improved 3 seconds from the first lap today, that means it’s a hard track to learn and a difficult track to go to the maximum on. I think it helps more than some other places to have this extra time. I think three or four practices before the race will not be enough to understand it so some of the riders who didn’t come here will have a little disadvantage. The wind has been a little bit of a problem, especially on the longer straight where you arrive over 340km/h, you feel a lot of unstable feelings. Almost all the track is tricky, there’s some very hard braking and also tight hairpins. The first sector is flowing but it is very hard to find a good line because it’s blind. We’re getting used to the track but also trying to solve a problem at maximum lean where we don’t have full confidence. We have to change the setting a bit to make it better. The tarmac is not perfect with only four bikes on it to clean it so it’s difficult to understand if it’s very grippy or not. It’s hard to know if it will be much better at the race weekend or just a little bit.”
Stefan Bradl - 4th
“When I first saw the track and went around it, I thought it was quite difficult. We had really low grip and it was a bit cold, but the sun came out so we got proper track temperature and grip during the day. I think it’s a nice track. It was a bit difficult to find the right line at the beginning, but that’s quite normal and after a couple of laps I was able to go faster and faster and generally enjoy the track – it’s very nice, but not easy! The most difficult bit is definitely Turns 2, 3, 4 and 5, where you have to change direction many times and very quickly. You have to be very precise and make sure you enter that section on the right line; if you get it wrong, the lap is gone, so that is one of the most challenging parts. The first corner is very nice too: you can brake so late and it’s going uphill, so you almost start flying over it! I’m looking forward to racing here.”
Valentino Rossi - 5th
“I really like the track - my first impression is that it is beautiful. It’s very flowing with a lot of fast corners and direction changes – it’s fun on the bike! There are three hairpins that are very tight; that’s better for Formula 1 overtaking, but for us they are a bit slow. In general the track is good. The city is great and the atmosphere is very good, so I think it is a very good place for a race. It’s very important to have this time as the track is so difficult - there are a lot of blind corners where you have to understand where to brake. It’s important for MotoGP to have a third race in America; we have a lot of good riders from the USA, so it’s right to be here.”