Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith’s preparations for the long-awaited first Circuit of the Americas (COTA) MotoGP race have been disrupted by a small overnight fire in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage.
A charging battery on one of the French team’s electric starter motors caught fire at around 3am local time in Austin.
A sprinkler system was immediately activated and local fire crews immediately attended the scene, with damage restricted to the loss of computers, servers and TVs.
Team boss Herve Poncharal said in a statement: “Unfortunately there was a small incident inside the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage overnight. The process of starting a MotoGP machine requires an electric starter and overnight they are left on charge.
"This is standard procedure and something we have been doing ever since the introduction of the four-stroke era. Unfortunately in the night one of the batteries caught fire.
"We have suffered quite a lot of damage and of course it is not ideal preparations but thankfully the fire prevention measures undertaken by the Circuit of the Americas and the assistance of the local Fire Department were invaluable in limiting the damage.
"The sprinkler system was immediately activated and fire crews on scene promptly and I am grateful for that. We will be conducting a thorough investigation to find out why this issue occurred and take the necessary steps to ensure it is not repeated in the future.
"I would like to apologise to the Yamaha Factory Team, LCR Honda and Cardion AB too, as the sprinkler system was also activated inside their pit area as well.
"But it could have been much worse and with the fantastic support of Yamaha and others in the close-knit MotoGP community, I am confident we can participate in this weekend’s race without any additional problems.”