Stefan Bradl sat quietly under the bright, warm sun and cloudless sky this past Monday waiting for his tires to warm up. The 2011 Moto2 world champion was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, to learn the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit for July’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Moto2 and Moto3 don’t race at Mazda Raceway, and many of the younger riders don’t know the tight, twisty track. “I just knew the track from PlayStation,” admitted Bradl, squinting into the sun. “We came to prepare for MotoGP, and I think we will be more ready for it.”
On Sunday, Bradl walked the entire circuit to learn the corner entries and approach to the infamous Turn 8 Corkscrew curve. “It is the only track [on the Grand Prix circuit] that I don’t know,” he said. “It is downhill, and there are lots of blind corners. It is really fun. I especially like the banked corners.”
In his first year in the premier class, Bradl is on a satellite Honda RC213V, racing for the LCR Honda team managed by former 125cc GP race-winner Lucio Cecchinello. MotoGP rules forbid riders from testing their racebikes at circuits outside of the calendar, but riders are allowed to participate in track days in their free time.
Bradl saddled up a CBR1000RR provided by American Honda, but he wasn’t able to ride as hard as he had expected. “It is a big challenge to go fast,” said Bradl, “especially from Turn 8 to Turn 11, but the whole circuit is tough. There is really no spot to rest or a long straight.”
Bradl and his manager flew out of Monterey on Monday night to Barcelona, Spain, for this weekend’s Catalunya GP.