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MotoGP Americas GP

"Disaster" COTA surface still a point of concern for MotoGP riders

A number of MotoGP riders have continued to raise concerns about the state of the asphalt at the Circuit of the Americas, with some branding it “a disaster”.

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

MotoGP riders have raised numerous concerns about the COTA asphalt for a number of years, with various partial resurfacing jobs taking place in the wake of such criticisms.

ANALYSIS: Why is COTA’s asphalt notoriously bad?

After the surface was labelled “a joke” by 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo two years ago, and Formula 1 raised its own concerns, the asphalt was renewed at Turn 2, Turn 10, and Turns 12-16 in January of 2022.

Complaints were minimal during last year’s MotoGP visit, but following Friday’s practice for the 2023 Americas GP several leading riders voiced further concerns.

“We have four asphalts on this track,” reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia noted.

“In dry, you can handle it quite well. In the wet it’s more difficult because already in the dry in Turn 1 where they scraped the track you feel that the front is locking.

“So, on wet this kind of thing is even higher. We will try to let them understand this, because Turn 11 the asphalt is destroyed, Turn 12 the asphalt is destroyed.

“Like I said, four asphalts in one track is not normal. For me, yes [it’s worse than last year] because we are incredible fast, we are already at the [lap] record.

“In terms of safety and the cleaning of the track, it’s improved compared to last year.

“But when you brake for Turn 1 you feel the rear is pushing you high, then you block the front, then you have to stop the bike.

“Same thing in Turn 11, Turn 12, when you enter the penultimate corner the bike starts to move a lot because the track has been scraped there. So, for me, yes, it’s worse.”

Alex Rins, Team LCR Honda

Alex Rins, Team LCR Honda

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Several riders stated that grip was worse where asphalt scraping had been carried out by the circuit, though in some areas it appeared as if the track was breaking apart.

“In some points, like Turns 11, 12, 15 and 20, if you go walking the asphalt is cracking,” Alex Marquez said.

“It’s not from scraping, it’s like the asphalt is going out and when you go there there’s a lot of spin.

“That point is where it’s a bit strange. There’s a big bump in Turn 3, it’s like a big step from the kerb to the asphalt and it’s something that if you hit you will crash.

“It’s a situation that’s dangerous because you can’t control it.”

Across Friday’s two practice sessions, there were five crashes at the Turn 12 hairpin – the hardest braking zone on the circuit.

“Turn 12 is a disaster, this is for sure, but the track is not bad,” Fabio Quartararo added.

“Turn 12 they have to make it 100% because a small mistake and you will crash. You can’t make proper corner speed, but in general the track is ok.

“It’s not worse than last year, only on this corner.”

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

LCR Honda’s Alex Rins was more forthright on the asphalt condition, stating: “It’s starting to be dangerous.

“I really like this place, the layout, the track, but mostly all the crashes are on the most critical points where the tarmac is worse – corner 11, corner 12 the tarmac is super damaged and the bumps are also a lot, even worse than last year.”

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini said on Friday that the matter would be raised again in that evening’s safety commission meeting as the current asphalt situation is “impossible”.

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“The tarmac is a disaster. It’s a really, really bad situation – maybe the worst of the season,” Marini said.

“I’m not happy, this is not a good… last year I remember in the safety commission we asked Dorna to push the circuit to make some changes for us, because maybe for the cars it’s not so bad and it’s not so dangerous.

“But for us it’s impossible to ride like this. We need to make a [minimum] standard for the homologation to ride in circuits like this.

“I like to ride here, but with the tarmac in this situation it’s really, really difficult.”

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