Repsol Hondas wunderkind Marc Marquez continues to demonstrate that he will be a threat for race wins by staying atop the timesheets during the private Honda/Yamaha MotoGP test at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. With so few bikes helping to lay down rubber on the racing line, Marquez found the conditions not so great in the morning. "The track was again quite slippery which surprised me as I thought it would be better after yesterday, but it's gradually getting better and I think it will be better this afternoon," he said. It didnt take Marquez long to get comfortable with the track though, as he soon undercut his 2:04.619 best on Monday by lunchtime on Tuesday, with his 2:04.363 lap just before the lunch break continuing his reign at the top. The young Spaniard wasnt done, however, slicing nearly another half second in the afternoon to end the day with a 2:03.853; the only other rider to get below the 2:03 mark was teammate Dani Pedrosa, who methodically started dialing in his bike to eventually turn a 2:03.976 lap.
"Although it looked like the track had a little less grip, it wasn't long before I could ride at the same level as yesterday, said Marquez of the Austin MotoGP circuit. "I gradually improved with every stint. Having a good pace early was important, because it allowed me to start test things out. For the rest of the day we kept dropping our times and keeping to our strategy: testing things and confirming the results to eliminate any doubt. We did a great job today and the team is really helping me a lot. I am learning so much during these daysmost of all with the electronics. With this being a new track, we have no base to go on and we have to work a little harder on finding one."
Although he did try hard at the end to unseat his teammate from the top spot on the second day of the test, Pedrosa seemed more concerned with grinding out the laps to get a positive baseline. "Today we continued to put in laps and I was also able to improve my cornering on some turns; I found some details that allowed me to run a better line on them. We had good conditions and were able to try some different gearing, plus a couple of shock absorbers that allowed us to gain a little more grip."
The factory Yamaha pair of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi appeared to be at a distinct disadvantage at Austin, as both MotoGP riders complained of a lack of edge grip from the rear tire off the Circuit of the Americas slower corners compared to the Hondas at the test. "We still don't have enough grip on the rear so we cant lean over with confidence which is why we are further behind than in Sepang," rued Lorenzo. Nonetheless, the reigning MotoGP champion managed to find a breakthrough in setup that allowed him to chop more than a few tenths off his previous best to close the gap to the Repsol Hondas. "In the last run before the lunch break, we changed the setup of the bike and we improved some tenths so we are closer to the fastest riders, but not as much as we would like. We were too soft in the suspension to start with, we made it harder and in this track it works."
Straight speeds were already topping well over 200 mph, with Lorenzo commenting, "In the main straight we are at 340kmh/h (211 mph) which is an amazing speed; when you have to brake and put your helmet up, the wind is very strong so its difficult to be stable."
Rossi could see where the Hondas were making time on the Yamahas, and its in an area where the seamless shift MotoGP gearbox that Rossi and Lorenzo are still waiting for could make a difference at Austin. "It looks like you can make a big difference in the slow parts here," said the Doctor, "Its also very important to have grip on the edge through the hairpin to have speed along the straight. Step by step we improved a lot from yesterday but have some disadvantage compared to the other guys so we need to put all the sections together. Our competitors are able to accelerate faster than us from the hairpin and they have a bit more grip on the edge compared to us so these are the areas where we have to work, in the flowing parts we are not so bad."
The Yamaha Factory Racing team were only planning on spending two days at this test, so they have already packed up their gear in preparation for the official IRTA Jerez test on March 23. The Repsol Honda and LCR Honda teams will finish their testing today.
MotoGP Austin Day Two test times:
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda 2:03.853
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 2:03.976
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 2:04.351
4. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 2:04.640
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 2:04.960