|The Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) Championship ventures into the Circuit of Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX, U.S.A. for the first time this weekend.|
Top MotoGP Teams and riders have already tested on the 5.513 kilometers COTA last month, and the COTA will be the first of the three U.S. MotoGP events this season; the second is the Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca in July and third the Indianapolis Grand Prix in August.
At the COTA weekend, riders will tackle tight hairpins, flowing sweepers and a 338km/h back straight. Fresh from their season opener victory, 1 – 2 finish and maximum points from the Qatar GP at the Losail International Circuit; reigning Champion Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and the Yamaha MotoGP squad are ready to blaze the 21-lap, 20 turns COTA circuit, starting with the first practices. “The Austin track has a very long straight and several corners in first gear where you are need good acceleration and traction. There we will have to work really hard from the first session to cut away the distance to our competitors. Anyway, I keep my confidence that we can also make a good result there. I want to win at Austin and that’s my mentality although I know in the USA it will be much more complicated,” Lorenzo commented.
Rossi added, “I really like the track and my first impression, when we tested there, was that the circuit is beautiful. The track lay-out is very special: there is some downhill and uphill and the first braking zone is very technical. For me turn two is the best though and after when you enter into the chicane. The straight is very long, which is good for overtaking. I really look forward to racing at COTA.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez remain the Yamaha duo’s strongest opponents at the Round 2 MotoGP event. At the recent COTA test, Marquez actually led the way on his 250-plus hp RCV213V and set the fastest time of 1:03.281 over the 3-day test.
The season opener at Losail was rather different for both Repsol Honda riders; Marquez spent much of the Qatar race duelling with Pedrosa in the second group, among the race leaders. Marquez stayed third till the end and captured a podium result on his first premier class outing, whereas Pedrosa struggled with grip issues and ended fourth overall.
Both factory Honda riders will be looking to put things right at COTA to prevent further Yamaha MotoGP advancements in the championship.
Honda’s other two prototype riders will be aiming for strong performances at COTA after enjoying mixed fortunes at the season opener. Former 125 champion Alvaro Bautista was satisfied with his sixth-place finish, believing it to be a good starting point for his fourth season in MotoGP. The Spaniard had a challenging time in Qatar, partly due to the finger injury he had sustained just two weeks earlier during the final preseason tests at Jerez. He will have a lot to learn this weekend because he didn’t take part in the preseason tests at Circuit of the Americas.
Former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl is in the hunt for a good finish at COTA after a strong start to his second season in the premier class went awry in Qatar. The German was battling for fifth-place with Rossi when he slid off out of the race. Bradl has the advantage of having tested at COTA alongside the Repsol Honda riders. He went well in the tests, ending up third overall, ahead of Rossi and Lorenzo.
Ducati MotoGP rider Nicky Hayden had the opportunity to experience the COTA last month on a road bike, when he and Ignite Pramac Racing rider Ben Spies took part in the press launch of the 1199 Panigale R.
For Hayden’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, on the other hand, this will mark his first visit to the COTA. “I haven’t been to the Circuit of the Americas, but from the video it looks like a really big and nice track, and it also looks really difficult. Unfortunately, we didn’t test there like some of the other guys, so it will be a problem for us in the beginning. Anyway, I’m really excited for us to be riding on a new track.”