The factory Yamaha and Honda men spun their first laps on the new Circuit of The Americas in Austin today on the first of a two-day test in Texas – and they were all full of praise for the 3.41-mile racetrack and the brand-spanking-new facility.
“I really like the track, my first impression is that it is beautiful,” said Valentino Rossi in a team release after setting the fifth fastest time of the day. “It’s very flowing with a lot of fast corners and a lot of change of direction; it is fun on the bike. There are three hairpins that are very tight – this is better for Formula 1 overtaking, but for us they are a bit slow. In general the track is good. There is some downhill and uphill and first braking zone is very good. We have to understand which tire to use, but the asphalt surface doesn’t have any rubber on it at the moment so there is not so much grip at the moment. The uphill at turn one helps to stop the bike, which is beautiful. For me turn two is the best, though, and after you enter into the chicane, which is very similar to Silverstone. The straight is very long, which is maybe good for overtaking.
“The city is great, the atmosphere is very good so I think it is a very good place for a race,” Rossi added. “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. We will continue to work on the line to understand the track and also to increase the rear grip on the bike as we suffer in acceleration. The first feeling is positive. 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.”
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo concurred, adding that the track isn’t an easy one to learn.
“I think it’s very important to come here and learn the track,” said the defending World Champion. “I haven’t learned 100 percent of it. I need more laps to learn my lines, but for the moment it’s a very beautiful track which is very complete with every kind of corner. In the beginning it was difficult to understand the lines, but I have improved 22 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 340kph [210 mph] – 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.”
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez set the fastest lap today, his 2:05.620 besting his teammate Dani Pedrosa by half a second. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was third with Lorenzo and Rossi rounding out the five MotoGP regulars.