Following this morning’s first free pratice at the Austin circuit there was unanimous complaint from the riders regarding the track surface - that it was dangerous. The total lack of grip and the problem of keeping heat in the tires - that some riders described that it was like riding in the rain - and the result was that lap times were more than five seconds slower than the best lap set during the test in March.
The second free practice with higher temperatures and more rubber on the track saw lap times start dropping after just 10 minutes into the session, with Jorge Lorenzo the first rider to break this morning’s 2.08 barrier, but the leader then became Stefan Bradl for a short while until Lorenzo regained the top of the timesheets.
Watching Marc Marquez following Valentino Rossi you could see where the rookie was making tighter lines and where he was gaining the most time compared to the veteran rider, but it Marquez’lap with 18 minutes left in the practice that set fire to the session, when he blazed through the track dropping more than 1.8 seconds from Lorenzo who was leading up to that moment and then he went on to better himself again by another 0.050s to stop the clock in 2.05.055 and in the finale his best lap was in 2.05.031, with no rivals.
Dani Pedrosa was second fastest and he was a little more than half a second from his team mate, while Stefan Brad in his last flying lap put himself in third and 1.1 seconds from the Repsol Honda rookie, demoting Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, to fourth and fifth, and at 1.606 and 1.837 respectively. Cal Crutchlow was sixth, and just 0.031s from the Italian Yamaha rider and he didn’t test at Austin.
A few days ago we told you about the latest evolution of the AGV Pista GP helmet, a pretty famous model because it is used, among others, by MotoGP star Valentino Rossi, who wowed the Qatar Grand Prix crowd last Sunday with an incredible comeback in the first race of the season (won by Yamaha’s team mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo).
However, Rossi was not the only MotoGP rider to wear the top of the range helmet from AGV: fellow Italians Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci as well as Czech rookie Lukas Pesek and German Stefan Bradl had one each too, and you can check the whole lot out in our photo gallery.
This product has been designed according to AGV’s own ‘Extreme Standards Helmets‘ project: rather than drawing the helmet starting from the outer shell, AGV performs a laser scan of the actual head of the rides, whose measures are translated into a digital format that will become the base around which they make the helmet. Basically, they start from there to develop the product from the inside outwards, adopting the most modern CAE/CAD digital design technologies to achieve the best performance while minimizing size and weight. The helmet is said to be more compact and lighter than its predecessors, offering improvements in terms of protection, ergonomics and comfort.
The final day of the last pre-season MotoGP test, saw Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow’s name not only on top of the timesheets at Jerez, but the British rider also came away with the fastest lap overall during the three days, beating Valentino Rossi’s yesterday’s lap by just 0.014s.
After wasting most of the entire day waiting for the rain to stop and the track to dry out, the real action started a little after 4pm, when most of the riders began to trickle one by one, and lap times began to tumble with Crutchlow grabbing the lead from Jorge Lorenzo and after just four laps.
The final hour of testing seemed to become a qualifying session, with lap times falling and the lead exchanging hands, until Crutchlow did another glorious lap which stopped the clock in 1:39.511, while Valentino Rossi jumped from seventh to second and ended up 0.224s from the satellite Yamaha rider.
Breaking what would have been another Yamaha 1-2-3, was Stefan Bradl. The LCR Honda rider grabbed the third spot edging out Jorge Lorenzo by a little more than a tenth of a second seemingly have solved the lack of confidence that he had with his front end which caused him to crash twice in the last three days.
With a lot less fanfare and attention that Yamaha’s team presentation at Jerez received by the press yesterday, LCR Honda also took the wraps their 2013 team livery during today’s test at the Spanish circuit, and we must say that the studio photos of Stefan Bradl and his Honda RC213V are absolutely stunning.
Lucio Cecchinello (Team Manager): “As happens to those people who love their chosen sport, at this point every year, I am excited and nervous as we approach the coming season. Joy and suspense, desire and expectations… these emotions are the ones that make me feel alive and pull me into the world of MotoGP. Together with Stefan, Honda HRC and all the Team, we have an important objective and we will go forward and accept this challenge. I am very happy to offer Stefan this opportunity as he deserves this as he is a talented rider and a fantastic person. We are also happy to continue our little contribution to the great show of MotoGP, to give the auto-motive companies a chance to progress their technology and last but not least, to develop the safety procedures for all the motorcyclists around the world”.
Stefan Bradl: “I am excited to be back after the winter break and more importantly, I am happy to be back with Lucio and his Team. Last year we had a very positive season and I felt that everybody gave their maximum support for me in my debut in MotoGP class. Firstly I must thank Honda HRC for believing in me and to thank them again for making the RCV as it is a real dream bike. The main target for me is to be on the podium this year, I think we have the potential to do that. For sure, the challenge is high and my rivals are very strong, but as soon as somebody in front makes a mistake we should be there to catch a podium”.
Bradl finished the first day of testing in ninth and 2.3 seconds off pace, but he also suffered a crash.
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, plus LCR’s Stefan Bradl concluded the final day of private testing at the Circuit of the Americas with Marquez having lead the top of the timesheets all three days, and now is already tipped to win the Austin round as he was virtually unstoppable with his particular riding style, physics defying lean angles and speed, and if he can keep it up he’ll become a true and worthy heir to Casey Stoner.
Check out what all three Honda riders to say regarding the final day of testing, and the last official pre-season test will be at Jerez de la Frontera from March 23rd to the 25th.
Marc Marquez said, “This final day has been good for me. From the beginning I had the same feeling as yesterday and especially this morning we started to try some technical settings for the first time and we found some big improvements. After lunch we were considering a race simulation but in the end we spent the time working with the electronics.It’s been important to come and test here as we will be here for the second race. It’s quite a physical track -especially the first sector- but in the end, we now know the track a little and we have a good base for when we come here for the GP.”
“After the first exit this morning I had a pain in my neck, I’m not sure what caused it but it affected my riding so I decided not to do so many laps today. Everything has gone well though in general, we had three positive days and I’m happy we came here, because we were able to put in many laps of this circuit which is very tricky and difficult. There are some heavy braking points and some blind corners, so it was important to test here to find the references. We weren’t able to try much in terms of settings, because we didn’t know the track and the surface wasn’t 100% with so few riders here, but we’ve been improving. We only tried the soft compound tyre, but in general the feeling is positive. I’d like to thank Honda for making the effort to come here, it has been valuable and I am very grateful!” said Pedrosa.
Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Bradl and wildcard CRT rider Blake Young had the entire Circuit of the Americas to themselves on the third and final day of testing, after Yamaha decided to leave on Wednesday evening.
Once again Marquez was the first rider out on track, followed by Bradl and then Pedrosa who waited until noon to start and by that time his rookie team mate had posted 25 laps and the fastest time of the day in 2′03.281, which was six tenths faster than the his best lap from the day before (2’03.853).
Marquez took home top honours on all three days of testing and his 2′03.281 lap has become the benchmark when the entire paddock returns to Texas for the second round of the season in April.
Team mate Dani Pedrosa was again second and ended up more than half a second adrift, but he finished early because of sore neck and after 24 laps, while LCR’s Stefan Bradl was third and a little shy of second from his former Moto2 rival and he too decided to quit an hour before the afternoon session was over and completed a total 43 laps, leaving the circuit to Marquez who was having so much fun that he continued until the chequered flag came out.
MotoGP Austin test- Final day results:
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 60 laps - 2′03.281
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 24 laps - 2′03.898
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 43 laps - 2′04.225
Blake Young (Attack Peformance) 42 laps - 2′12.186
Marc Marquez is certainly enjoying the Circuit of the Americas. The Repsol Honda rookie was the first out on track this morning - everyone waited until the track temperature was warmer - immediately posting a 2’04.836 just a few tenths from his yesterday’s best lap and then continued to improve as did everyone else and just before lunch did a 2′04.363 which was already two and half tenths faster, and then in the afternoon dropped under the 2.04 barrier with his fortieth lap, and stopped the clock in 2′03.853 which would remain untouchable for the rest of the riders.
Team mate Dani Pedrosa was again second and in his last hot lap managed to get much closer to Marquez, and he completed the day a little more than a tenth of a second from his impressive team mate who is already sharp as fox and with the experience of a veteran MotoGP rider who doesn’t want to reveal his secrets ,as he didn’t let anyone follow him around the track to see what lines he was taking.
This was the final day of testing for Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, as the team decided that they had enough data to work on before returning for the GP event in April, but the two riders were not completely satisfied with their results compared to the Hondas, both riders lamenting that they need to have better acceleration and more rear grip on their M1s.
Nonetheless Lorenzo concluded the day in third, while Rossi was again the last MotoGP rider and the one with the more laps done. He improved over yesterday, but not enough to keep up the Repsol Honda’s nor with his team mate and neither with Stefan Bradl who finish fourth and three tenths faster than the Italian.
MotoGP Austin Day 2 results:
1 MARQUEZ M.Repsol Honda Team 2’03.853
2 PEDROSA D.Repsol Honda Team 2’03.976
3 LORENZO J.Yamaha Factory Racing Team 2’04.351
4 BRADL S.LCR Honda MotoGP 2’04.640
5 ROSSI V.Yamaha Factory Racing Team 2’04.960
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.”
Day 1 of the second official Sepang test was marred first by a greasy and slippery track that didn’t allow lap times to drop and then it was further hampered by the appearance of the usual afternoon tropical downpour but a few riders did go out in the wet.
Here’s what some of the other riders had to say following day 1:
Stefan Bradl - 4th
“Actually the track conditions were worse than the first test so today’s lap time is not as good as my first outing here. Due to the slippery surface it took me a while to get a proper confidence and a proper speed but we were able to put in many laps trying out some braking system components and geometry settings. Around 3pm it started to rain so I had a couple of laps in the wet aboard the 2013 machine for the first time and the verdict was quite positive”.
Cal Crutchlow - 6th
“I’m happy enough with today because all you could do was ride around to the grip that was available. This morning the track condition wasn’t good at all. It was greasy and the heat was just making it worse and you can see the lap times are a fair way off what we were doing here only recently. I was 1.5s off my best time from the first test and Pedrosa was about the same. Once I got to my best lap time today I pretty much stayed at that pace for the rest of the day because the grip wasn’t there. There were a few crashes and it was obvious that we’d got used to the grip that we had at the last test but it wasn’t there and when people started to push they crashed.”
The final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang saw improvement by the top seven riders in lap times, but for the rest of the field, recovering the gap was slightly less impressive than yesterday.
Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the first test of the season, except for Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. The two knew it would be difficult as they had no new parts to test - just old ones to re-test and the bike is still sadly very much off pace, just like in 2011 and 2012 and with the same old problems, chattering, traction and rideability. Ducati will have to perform some sort of miracle and with very little time to do it or pray it rains every race day.
Cal Crutchlow - 5th
“It has been a very positive week and I am where I expected to be and that’s right behind the top four factory bikes. I can’t really ask for more than that and I’m pleased with my lap times because my bike is almost identical to the bike I rode last year. Today I was doing a lot of laps on old tyres and trying to stay consistent and I’ve improved. I also feel like I’ve made good progress in improving on the brakes, so it has been a productive test and good to be back on track after the winter break. I’ve built up my confidence each day but it is obvious that 2013 is going to be incredibly tough. There is some amazing talent on really good machinery but I am really looking forward to it. I’ll be ready to give it 100% as always and come the first race in Qatar I’ll be ready to challenge. Credit to Bradley as we ll because he has done a fantastic job this week. This was his first proper test in MotoGP and he has got faster and more confident each day. I have been very impressed with him and it is going to be good being his teammate this season.”
Stefan Bradl – 6th
“The result of these three days of work is quite good for me. I think we have completed our job gathering more data ahead the next test here. Even today I was working on a raft of things from traction control, to suspension and brakes and Bridgestone gave us a new rear hard tyre to test. At the end I run the circuit 43 times growing my confidence on this bike. There’s more work to do before the first race of the season but we leave Sepang with a good base”.