Everything is bigger in Texas, or so goes the saying. Circuit of The Americas certainly meets that criteria: 3.4 miles in length, 20 turns, an elevation gain of 133 feet and its .745-mile front straight is the longest on the MotoGP calendar. After the final qualifying session for April’s inaugural Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas, I asked Longview native Ben Spies for his view of this new race circuit.
• “I hate to say it, but Turn 1 is a very dangerous corner for a start. It’s a good corner for racing, but with the shape of the turn, the way the right line is supposed to be for a start, if somebody messes up a tiny bit, you could take out a lot of people—like the first chicane at Monza.”
• “The fast ess section—Turns 3, 4, 5 and 6—is the most difficult part of this track.”
• “I wish Turn 11, the corner that leads onto the back straightaway, wasn’t a bus stop, but I guess it’s good for car racing. They’ve got to mix it up, I understand that, but for this track to be as big as it is and to have such a nice flow, it’s a little bit strange.”
• “Braking is nothing crazy; Monza is pretty similar and so is Sepang off the back straightaway. Up the hill and into Turn 1 is more of a spectacle. It’s cool, but it’s not the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. The back straightaway is downhill going into first gear, so that puts a little more pressure on your upper body.”
• “The triple right is the easiest part, just because it’s a constant turn. Basically, you just set it in there. It’s a blind exit, but once you’ve done 10 or 15 laps, you know where you’re at, and it’s pretty simple. The hairpins before that are a lot harder.”
• “Turn 19 is difficult because it drops away pretty hard after the long, long triple right. So, you have your momentum and speed up and the track kind of falls away from you.”
• “There’s not one fourth-gear corner on the track. It’s still world-class and awesome, but instead of five super-slow corners, it would have been nice to have three slow corners and one really big, fast one.”