The riders testing in Austin will have several advantages when the MotoGP race is held here in April. Track knowledge and baseline setups alone must be worth the expense to ship bikes and crew halfway around the world to this new circuit. But grip remains elusive, despite elevated temperatures from yesterday, holding times to within a few tenths of yesterday's best.
With only a handful of bikes circulating, the riders to a man are acknowledging that lack of grip is holding them back. For the Yamahas, both Lorenzo and Rossi are particularly concerned with exit grip from the circuit's multiple hairpins. For his part, Lorenzo is relatively pleased with a setup breakthrough near the end of yesterday and continues to make progress. Rossi continues to enjoy the circuit, but that has yet to get him into the 2:04's.
The factory Honda riders both noted the slippery track, but their bikes seem to get better acceleration out of the corners, and Marquez continues to work through elbow protectors the way most people use up chewing gum. Pedrosa seemed less than enthused with the morning work, and continues to search for gearbox and suspension issues that will serve as a reference point. Working alone, Bradl is churning through productive laps and he is progressing along with, and sometimes in front of, the HRC machinery.
With grip an ongoing issue, tires will be a primary topic leading up to the April race. Pedrosa stated that all the bikes are currently running Bridgestone's soft compound, which was confirmed by tire techs. As it is, the tire crews seem well pleased by the durability of the soft compound and expect their current batch to perform comfortably past race distance. Bridgestone's task will be to extrapolate the higher temperatures likely in a month's time, combined with the additional rubber from a full host of series and riders circulating, to determine how much softer the compounds can be in April.
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Asked about finding his way around the new circuit, Marquez confided that he was being careful not to show the others his best lines. The guy is competitive, in every sense of the word.