Dani Pedrosa, preparing for his eighth MotoGP
season, will join a small group of rivals in getting an early chance to sample the new Austin circuit during a private test this week.
Last year's title runner-up Pedrosa has dominated the timesheets during 2013 pre-season testing to date, leading five of the six days at Sepang in Malaysia.
But the private Austin test will provide a rare new challenge for the experienced Spaniard. The last time MotoGP
visited a new circuit was in 2010, when both Silverstone
and Aragon were added to the calendar.
“Now we can look forward to Austin, which will be very challenging on the first day,” said Pedrosa. “We'll have many extra things to do with the set-up, the gearbox and tyres. The riders will also have to adapt to a brand new track. Many things.”
The test takes place from Tuesday to Thursday. Austin, which held its first F1 race to widespread acclaim late last year, will then host round two of this year's MotoGP
championship from April 19-21.
Aside from an extra 3kg of minimum weight and reduction in available engine changes from six to five, technical rules for the second season of 1000cc MotoGP
are largely unchanged.
With that in mind, and given Honda's strength in the second half of last year - winning eight of the final nine races - Pedrosa said there have not been any radical changes to the RC213V since the 2013 spec was debuted at November's Valencia test.
“I think the basics of the bike are quite good now,” he declared. “From the first test at Sepang we've had things that were 'secondary' to test - like Ohlins [suspension], some things with the Mapping and weight distribution etc. Nothing like a new engine or chassis. So the bike was the same and running more or less similar.”
In the absence of any major new parts, Pedrosa felt an important part of testing to date has simply been getting familiar with his equipment on a circuit he knows well.
“It's very important just to learn more about the bike. When you change a spring or something on the bike, how it will react,” he said. “Also just riding and feeling what the bike does when you move around, when the tyres are old etc.
“In the first Sepang test we were changing things, but at the second test it was smaller changes.”
Pedrosa will be joined at the Austin test by Repsol Honda team-mate Marc Marquez, LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and Factory Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo
and Valentino Rossi.
The third and final official test, with all teams and riders present, will take place at Jerez
from March 23-25.