By all accounts, the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is outstanding.
F1 cars were the first to try out the track in November of last year, and the initial reviews were glowing; its undulating length was hailed by most drivers as challenging, but fun.
From March 12-14 the factory Yamaha and Honda MotoGP teams will head to the Texas track, with Satellite team LCR Honda in tow, for a three-day private test.
It will be the first time any of MotoGP's premier riders see the circuit. Consequently, it will provide a completely level playing field—one that Valentino Rossi believes will give him a better grasp of where he and his M1 stand in relation to his teammate and the Repsol Honda machines.
In his triumphant return to a competitive machine, Rossi finished the first Sepang test third fastest. In the second test, thanks to his M1's seeming reluctance to change the accursed nature that resulted in a nightmarish 2012 season for Ben Spies, Rossi finished fifth fastest, .78 seconds behind his teammate and reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo. But had he not been dogged by bad luck throughout the three-day test, there is no reason to believe Rossi would not have been just as close to the leaders as he was in the first go-around.
Historically, Rossi has ridden well at Sepang. The same holds true for Jerez, the site of the last remaining preseason test after Austin. Because all of the riders will essentially be starting from square one when they get to COTA, Rossi will be able to gauge his and his bike's performance against the others without qualifiers.
Here is what Rossi had to say about the test, per MotorcycleNews.com:
Austin is the more difficult test for me because I expect to be competitive in Jerez but Austin we don't know. In my mind I think I am competitive in Sepang and the M1 is always very fast there. I think and I hope it will be the same story in Jerez, which is a very good track for the M1 and me.
Austin will be another story because it is a new track. I have never seen it so it will be the most difficult test to understand our performance at a track that is maybe not positive for us. It will be a very important test to understand the level of the bike and the track.
The track itself has dramatic elevation changes, an abundance of blind apexes and an uncommon mix of both technical and fast sectors.
It will be interesting to see which of the riders adapts quickest to the completely foreign circuit and posts the best time on day one. To bet against the 34-year-old Rossi, and his 13 years of Grand Prix experience, would be unwise.