Motogp™ Family Honors Edwards, Anticipates Competitive Race
Three European and three American Moto GP™ riders provided their pre-race perspective on the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas being held April 11-13 at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), including Texan Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing, who surprised everyone by announcing this would be his last time he will ride competitively on his “home track,” since he intends to retire at the end of the season.
Edwards said the decision was made in part because he wasn’t able to achieve the kind of improvements he was looking for during pre-season testing with his current team, NGM Mobile Forward Racing. He said other factors influencing his decision were a desire to spend more time with his wife and three kids, as well as operating his Texas Tornado Boot Camp motorcycle riding school near Houston.
Repsol Honda Team rider Marc Marquez, the winner of last year’s inaugural MotoGP race held at COTA, joined the other racers in cheering and applauding the American rider for his many accomplishments. He then expressed sadness and regret that Edwards will be leaving the series.
“I had hoped to race against Colin for many years to come,” said Marquez, “because he’s such a professional, and a really great rider. So it will be really sad to see him go. He has every right to be really proud of what he’s accomplished during his great career.”
Commenting on his return to COTA, Marquez said, “I certainly have great memories of Circuit of The Americas from last year, since I earned my first pole and my very first podium here. Obviously, I’m hoping for a similar result this year … but we’re all keeping our eye on the weather, since it looks like it might be unstable, with a slight chance of rain for Sunday’s race. Of course, I expect a competitive race, with everyone being a bit faster than last year, since it was our first race at this course. But since all the riders are more familiar with this track, I anticipate quicker lap times,” he added.
In the view of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi, quicker times may not be as easy to achieve, however. “With 20 turns to navigate it will be very challenging to improve much over last year, and to get the most out of the bike on each and every lap,” said Rossi. “The Hondas were very strong last year, so it will be a challenge for the Yamaha team to perform at an equal or higher level. This track is very fantastic, but very difficult. It’s very long, one of the longest tracks on the (MotoGP) circuit, with lots of corners, making it very tricky,” he added.
“Being here at COTA at my home Grand Prix race in front of the home crowd is always special, and something I really enjoy,” said Drive M7 Aspar rider Nicky Hayden. “Hopefully, that will help give us a little boost. I also want to take advantage of some of the strengths of this bike, now that I’m racing for the Honda team this year.”
Hayden went on to praise the facilities at Circuit of The Americas. “This truly is an amazing facility, and I think it’s something that we as Americans can be proud of. So I have to say, it’s probably the first really state-of-the-art motorcycle racing track we’ve ever had in the U.S. It’s really safe and the track is really wide and open and all the facilities here are top-notch. I’m hoping there’s more buzz about the race, now that we’re in our second year here, so perhaps we’ll see a bigger crowd this time. I’m also hoping we have a good competitive weekend for all the classes.”
Although Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith raced here last year, he said he expects it will continue to be a challenge for the riders.
“Coming to Austin is going to be a bit tough, since it’s still an unfamiliar track for all of us. I’ll try and stick as close to the Honda bikes as I can, and that’s how it will be the rest of this season. I certainly struggled here last year, because it’s so hard to get into a good rhythm, with so many challenging corners. I did my very best on this tricky course, but was still three seconds off the pace. So I’ll try to put in a bit more track time tomorrow and see how much I’m able to improve. I certainly have more experience as a rider than I did in last year’s rookie season. Hopefully the final results will reflect that added experience,” he concluded.
Joining the five other veteran MotoGP riders on the podium was American rookie Moto2 rider Josh Herrin, representing the AirAsia Caterham team.
“To be the only American rider competing in Moto2 is really exciting,” said Herrin. “And being able to race in front of my home crowd is a really huge deal. I can’t wait to get the weekend started, and I’m hoping for a good result in the race on Sunday. COTA has treated me very well, and provided plenty of passes for me to give out to my friends and family, so I’m just hoping I can put on a good show for them.”
Commenting on the retirement of compatriot Colin Edwards, Herrin said he’s sad to see him go, because it means there’s one less American rider competing in international motorcycle racing.
“With the MotoGP series coming to the United States each year, I’m hopeful we’ll see more and more young Americans take the decision to join the series and help carry the flag,” he added.
About Circuit of The Americas
Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, is the home of world championships and a world-class destination for premium sports and entertainment. COTA has been nominated as the 2014 “Sports Facility of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. The same publication named COTA’s annual marquee event, the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, “Sports Event of the Year” for 2013. Additionally, COTA is the new North American home for the summer edition of ESPN’s X Games. More than one million visitors come to COTA each year for events such as MotoGP™, United Sportscar Racing, the FIA World Endurance Championships, business and social functions, and more than 20 performances at the venue’s acclaimed Austin360 Amphitheater, winner of Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” award for 2013. COTA’s 1,500-acre campus includes a variety of permanent structures, including a 44,000-square foot Event Center, an impressive Main Grandstand with hospitality suites and the Velocity Lounge, a 270,000-square foot Paddock Building with 34 garages, and an iconic 25-story Observation Tower at the heart of the facility. For more information and downloadable video and photos, visit: www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com, www.Austin360Amphitheater.com or COTA’s dedicated FTP site, media.circuitoftheamericas.com. Follow COTA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas and Twitter @circuitamericas and @COTAmedia.