MotoGP : Austin COTA Test Round-Up

New to the calendar for the 2013  The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas will hold it’s first MotoGP race over April 19-21, the second race of the season.

Ahead of this Honda decided to hold a private test at the track, which they later chose to open up to any other team who cared to join in, Yamaha took up the offer.

Marc Marquez really seemed to take to the circuit and was fastest on all three days, here’s the final times from the third and final day of testing:

1. Marc Marquez ( ESP )Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.281s (60 laps)
2. Dani Pedrosa ( ESP) Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.898s (24 laps)
3. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda (RC213V) 2m 4.225s (43 laps)
4. Blake Young (USA) Attack Performance (Attack-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 12.186s (42 laps)

This obviously doesn’t tell the whole story – no Yamaha. The team only took part on day one and two of testing, so here’s the day two times to illustrate Yamaha progress at COTA :

1. Marc Marquez (ESP) Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.853s (54 laps)
2. Dani Pedrosa (ESP) Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.976s (58 laps)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP) Yamaha Factory (YZR-M1) 2m 4.351s (65 laps)
4. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda (RC213V) 2m 4.640s (49 laps)
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory (YZR-M1) 2m 4.960s (67 laps)
6. Blake Young (USA) Attack Performance (Attack-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 13.641s (47 laps)
7. Michael Barnes (USA) GPTech (BCL-Suzuki CRT) 2m 13.993w (22 laps)

Ahead of the Austin test Pedrosa had always been faster than his team mate Marquez at any test they had both been present at. Marquez, who looks to be a real contender for victory at race two, 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”.

The Spaniard also gave an insight into how it feels to ride in Austin: “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.”

Second fastest man and fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa complained of having a “pain in the neck” which turned out not to be a thinly veiled reference to being beaten by his young rookie team-mate and a real injury which caused him to sit out much of the final day, however he remained positive and felt the test had been worthwhile:

“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… I’d like to thank Honda for making the effort to come here, it has been valuable and I am very grateful!”

Though pulling close to Marquez time on Wednesday and going faster than he had previously on Thursday Pedrosa was still 0.617 behind Marquez at the end of the test.

Current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo said progress had been made but that he did not feel Yamaha were close enough to Honda’s times. He spent his two days adapting his style for the circuit and looks forward to the spectacle it will bring for MotoGP watchers:

“The fans will like MotoGP here, it is going to be a great show. We have been trying different set ups of the bike, no new parts, just playing with the set up, changing the suspension and forks and in the last run I improved half a second with set up changes. We still don’t have enough grip on the rear so we can’t lean over with confidence which is why we are further behind than in Sepang. I am adapting my riding style every lap a little for the track”.

Returning to Yamaha for 2013 after the Ducati years, Rossi sounded positive after making big time gains on day two, but was aware there was much still to do, leaving him fifth fastest :

“We improved the lap time a lot from yesterday. We are closer, but there remains one second to the top and there are still some problems, It was very important to come here because the track is so difficult. So it was good work ahead of the grand prix weekend, but we hope to do better in the grand prix, he told, adding :”I have problems stopping the bike. I’m not very good in hard braking. Also we have a bit too much of a wheelie issue in acceleration from the hairpin.”

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa wasn’t the only person with injury issues on the final day, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl also cut his final day testing short after feeling pain in his left hand.

The German rider explained that “overnight my left hand started to ache and this morning it was oddly swollen, for this reason I was not able to be very aggressive on the bike – especially on hard braking and left corners – and we decided to cancel the afternoon race simulation”.

Both the American CRT bikes which are due to wild-card at the three American rounds were present but compared to the high profile teams and riders both Attack Performance and GP Tech struggled, though were just three tenths apart from each other. both teams have tested in Texas previously on the 12th February.

All the MotoGP teams now head to Jerez for the final pre-season test over March 23-25.


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