‘Ice-like’ India Turn 1 catching MotoGP riders out on Friday

MotoGP’s first on-track action at the Buddh International Circuit for the Indian Grand Prix was met with positive views from riders, though the ‘ice-like’ Turn 1 has proved a challenge.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

This weekend marks the first ever MotoGP event in India, with VR46 Ducati topping both practice sessions on Friday with Marco Bezzecchi in FP1 and Luca Marini in FP2.

The track was officially homologated on Thursday after the riders gave their approval, having come into the event carrying safety concerns about the recent circuit updates.

And while some points of the track were touted as something a concern by some riders, the overall impression was positive.

However, Turn 1 proved to be a major challenge for the field, with several crashes taking place there and many instances of riders running off as they outbraked themselves.

“It’s very difficult, Turn 1, to stop the bike,” Bezzecchi said.

“Also because after you have Turn 2 immediately, so every time you run wide you go into Turn 2 and it’s fucking difficult.

“I made so many mistakes today to have a perfect reference and it was not easy.

“I think it’s the easiest point to make mistakes, but to ride it’s not the toughest part of the track. Sector three is more difficult.

“You have to be precise and there are many corners in sequence, that if you make a mistake in the first one you fuck all the sector.”

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Honda’s Joan Mir added: “Fuck. Turn 1, in five laps I went wide twice. It’s a difficult corner.

“It’s difficult to stop the bike there. I think everyone went wide a lot of times there.

“Also the wall is pretty close. Once I missed the brakes a couple of times, I saw I was pretty close to the wall.

“But we know this track is on the limit in terms of safety in many areas. But, at the moment, in the dry conditions it’s quite ok. It will be different in the wet.”

Aleix Espargaro – who feels that without the Turn 1/2/3 section, Aprilia could be as dominant as it was in Barcelona - says it’s easy to make a mistake at Turn 1 because the grip is “like ice”.

“I went out 10 times off track,” he started. “It’s strange because in corner one if you brake one metre later than the reference, you pay it by 100m – you go really, really wide. It’s difficult, corner one is like ice.”

Reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia praised the condition of the circuit, but noted that Turn 1 is “quite intense” to get right.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“We were expecting less grip and a worse condition, but as soon as we started this morning it was already good,” the Ducati rider noted.

“I don’t think we will drop the lap time tomorrow, maybe another second, but not too much. This is good, they [the organisers] did a good job of washing the track.

“Some parts of the track are very difficult, like corner one, because you just one line and you can brake just in one point.

“If you brake just after, you are wide and you go outside. So, it’s quite intense to be very precise there.”

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Bagnaia also highlighted how difficult the heat in India has been to manage, revealing on Friday that “you feel like you are burning on the back straight, you start to feel you throat burning, your legs burning.”

A number of riders said that the heat in India felt worse than it does at places like Malaysia and Thailand.

Most riders felt after Friday’s action that the amount of run-off lining the track was sufficient, though Pramac’s Jorge Martin believes there isn’t enough room at the Turn 10 left-hander.

“I feel only corner 10 is a bit on the limit,” he said.

“Luckily nobody crashed over there, but we arrive so, so fast in third gear almost on the limit.

“If you crash there it’s quite dangerous. Now we cannot do anything, but for sure next season we will ask for it to be improved. But it is what it is.”

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