MotoGP Tests the Waters at Circuit of the Americas

[ Valentino Rossi leaving the pits on day one of MotoGP testing at Circuit of the Americas.

MotoGP will race on American soil three times in 2013. But before the inaugural motorcycle Grand Prix at the sparkling new Circuit of the Americas, three MotoGP teams have made the trek to Austin, TX, for an unofficial test. Factory Honda and Yamaha teams are here, in addition to the satellite LCR Honda team, and two American CRT projects.

The mood in the paddock is casual, with riders and teams free to wander in the open without being mobbed by journalists and fans, but as yesterday's testing activities drew to a close there was definite tension in the pits. The Factory Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi found themselves off the pace of their rivals at Repsol Honda on the time sheets; 1.4 and 2.4 seconds, respectively, behind MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez. In the afternoon, activity cooled in the Honda pit, but Yamaha efforts never relented until the 6pm close of the track. Lorenzo and Rossi brought their times down before the end of the day, but surely not close enough. Especially Rossi, who starts the second day of the test 1.9 seconds adrift of Marquez, while Lorenzo ended day one 0.6 seconds slower.

[ Circuit of the Americas command center, with cameras on each turn and the paddock.

Beyond the action on track, one thing seems clear: Austin is ready for MotoGP. The circuit's facilities are world-class, with a vast paddock area, garages that sit under private suites, and one of the most photogenic 3.4 miles of asphalt you're likely to find anywhere. The result of a $400 million investment in the Circuit of the Americas project, which began in earnest in early 2011, the track has already hosted the most complicated show on Earth. The Formula 1 circus descended on Austin for the U.S. Grand Prix in November of 2012, and was a rousing success for the drivers, teams, and spectators.

After two more days of testing here at Circuit of the Americas, the Factory Honda and Yamaha teams will join the rest of the MotoGP paddock in Jerez for one final round of testing. The MotoGP circus then hits the road for Doha, Qatar, for the first round of the world championship at the Losail Circuit on April 7, returning to Austin for round two of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship on April 21.

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