MotoGP: Track drama ahead in Austin?

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This weekend’s American Grand Prix could throw a spanner into the works for race organisers as they remain on knife edge to see what sort of situation greets them at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Riders complained twelve months ago about the bumpy surface, with Dani Pedrosa likening the surface to a Supercross race and saying he wasn’t prepared to ride at the track again unless something was done about them. Built on an almost unique type of soil local to the area and known as black gumbo, the track has subsided considerably since opening in 2012, leaving it in a difficult to ride condition last year.

It’s an issue that faces road construction in the area as well, with new routes often prepared and then left to stabilise for up to a year before being completed.

To remedy those bumps, circuit staff have attempted to utilise heavy road construction planning equipment in recent weeks to uniformly sand down the track and remove them. However, that’s believed to have exposed the ultra-abrasive under-surface of the asphalt in places, leaving the track potentially highly abrasive on tyres.

Still to be properly assessed by the riders, MotoGP’s safety representatives and sole tyre supplier Michelin, there’s a possibility of extreme solutions like mandatory pit stops being introduced to this weekend’s event if the track is found to be not up to scratch. Any action is unlikely to come until after the opening day of action and the subsequent Friday night safety commission meeting, however.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer