Photography by Andrea Wilson
There are three full-time American MotoGP racers, but none of them were at the recent private MotoGP test at the newest track on the 2013 schedule - Circuit of The Americas. But former AMA Superbike racer Blake Young was in Texas testing for what will be the first of his three wild card rides on the Attack Performance CRT bike in April at CoTA.
We had a chance to ask him about his thoughts on the track, his progress with the bike, and testing on the same track of the factory teams.
Talk about your first day?
It was pretty interesting. I was excited and ready to rock and roll. And then we made two laps and had some motor issues so we had to sit out for a while and then didn’t get back on the track until after lunch. You know it was a pretty good day for me. We went quite a bit quicker than we did when we were last there testing. So I’m happy about that.
Learning the tires I think is the biggest thing for me right now and trying to find the edge, which I really don’t think I’ve found yet. It’s a good thing that we’re testing for another two more days. Everything seems to be going good. We’re just plugging away at it. It’s slowly but surely coming along.
Somebody said that your bike caught on fire?
Yeah, well when we had the first engine failure I pulled off the track as soon as I felt it let go. And then turned around and saw some smoke and I didn’t know if maybe I left oil on the track so I looked at my rear tire and then next thing was, ‘I wonder if there’s any oil down in the oil pan?’ As soon as I pulled back the belly pan and saw flames and I was like, ‘Oh, oh.’ So my first reaction was, ‘where are the guys with the fire extinguishers’ and then I thought, ‘yeah were at a test they’re not here.’ So I ran to the flag stand and they had a fire extinguisher in there so I ended up putting the bike out, but it didn’t hardly do any damage to the bike. But they brought it back in swapped out the motor and away we went.
It seems to be the consensus is that the riders like the track, but it sounds like it is a pretty difficult track to learn?
Yeah I can see that… It seems like you learn a section again and go back over it and find something and then you drop a whole second a lap and you are like, ‘whoa.’ We’re still quite a ways off on the lap times on where I would like to be, but you know I’m not finding myself… you know have to get there to get there cause I know it’s just going to come with more laps and it just seems to be one of those tracks with the more and more laps you can get around here the better off you’re going to probably be.
They also talk about the surface not having much grip?
When we first went out I only made a lap, but it was pretty slick, but by the end of the day I felt like it’s got lots of grip. When we were there for the last test, it took quite a bit of time. It was wet conditions up until about noon and then it finally dried out around one two o’clock. So it was a pretty green track and it took some laps to get some rubber down, but it seemed like it came to.
How did the rest of the test go?
It went really, really well. I’m glad that we had the third day. I know that a three- day test can be long sometimes, but definitely we needed all three days. I think we’re gonna have to schedule a test between now and the race because we had a motor failure the first day and the third day we worked on a few more things and I think we were a little bit limited to our resources there on the third day.
Going back there for the race, I’m happy, but I would’ve like to go maybe a little bit quicker than we ended up going around the track. I think Austin is a fairly technical track and it was good to have three days of learning. I think we’ll definitely have an advantage now going back.
So you think you’ll do more testing before the race?
I think what the game plan is now we need to test that motor that we would like to run in the race. We need to test it one more time. And maybe we’ll be testing in California, maybe California Speedway or Chuckwalla Raceway and get out on it and maybe try a few other things with suspension and handlebar angles and what not. But I think we definitely just need one more day of sorting out to make sure we’re ready to rock n’ roll come April for the race.
You said the first day one of your priorities was to get used to the tires, after the three days how do you feel?
You know I feel like I’ve got a lot better grip on what the tires can do. The only thing I didn’t get to do was do a race distance on a set of tires. We definitely put race distance on a couple of sets, but then didn’t do it consecutively, which was one thing that I would have liked to have done. But I’m pretty happy with them. The Bridgestone’s just work so well and they’re such a different feel from anything I’ve ever ridden before and they really… you’ve got to ride them aggressively right away, right out of pit lane, and keep the heat in them for as long as you can so… it was like I said a three-day test is pretty long but we definitely used up all three days for sure. But I’m happy with the tires and we used some tires that I don’t know if they are going to be bringing back and some tires that we know for sure they are going to bring back. And there might be one option that they didn’t have at the test that might be there for the race. So we’ll just have to see come race time what’s going to work the best.
You’ve had some time testing before with just yourself, what’s it like testing on the track with the factory MotoGP guys?
You know it was really good to be out there and riding with some of the prototype guys. I would’ve really liked to have a full-time CRT rider out there so that we had someone to base ourselves off of. But it was good watching those guys be as precise as they are and to see how far they are leaning the bike over. It was definitely a good experience for me. And to be able to ride around out there and to watch what they are doing and see the different lines because up until then I hadn’t ridden with anybody around the racetrack and didn’t know the proper lines and how far edge to edge they’re really using the race track. Those guys use all of it. You know rumble strips going in to rumble strips coming off the turns and using up every last bit of the racetrack. So, it was definitely a good experience to be out there and circulate with those guys.