Lüthi and Morbidelli make dusty MotoGP debut in Texas
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Tom Lüthi and Franco Morbidelli battled a dusty, low grip track surface in today’s free practice at the Circuit of The Americas.
In difficult conditions both riders made impressive rookie outings on the demanding 5.5km layout in advance of Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.
Conditions improved significantly for the afternoon FP2 session with Lüthi going 1.6s faster compared to FP1 to finish 19th with a time 2’06.625.
Morbidelli was just a fraction slower than his teammate at 2’06.640 and 20th position overall.
A project to smooth out the notorious bumps at COTA meant that much of today’s two 45 minute sessions were spent cleaning the track and maximising set-up options for the race.
Tom Lüthi: 19th – 2’06.625
“The main issue today was that I didn’t find any grip with the rear tyre and I had a lot of sliding. But then when you get some grip on the edge of the tyre on corner exit the bike is very nervous which makes this track very physical and tiring to ride. For the race we need more grip and stability overall. A constant slide is okay in the long corners but you need to load the rear with more grip out of all the slow turns.”
Franco Morbidelli: 20th- 2’06.640
“We are working a lot on the set-up, both the bike and electronics and we made a good step in the afternoon improving by 1.7 seconds. There are still many small steps we can make and my focus is just to ride at my best in the conditions. The bumps are less this year and despite the dusty surface I found the grip levels not so bad.”
Gilles Bigot: Tom Lüthi Chief Engineer
“This is a very physical track for MotoGP so Tom did a good job today considering it was his first time here in the premier class. This afternoon we did a long run on a race tyre and Tom made good improvement, even though it was very tiring session. Our focus is on the set-up for the race not so much the lap time and it seems the weather forecast for tomorrow is rain but for the race dry conditions. For sure Tom is finding MotoGP with more horsepower more physically and mentally demanding here than Moto2 last year, when he finished second in this race to Franco.”