MotoGP riders have mixed emotions about the quality of Misano’s new track surface after the opening day of the San Marino Grand Prix weekend, with a few going as far as to hint that the asphalt laid since last year’s race is downright dangerous.
Chief among them is LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami. Honda’s current top rider in the championship battle is adamant that unless his team finds a solution for his woes, he won’t be able to finish Sunday’s 27-lap race.
“The new surface has a lot of grip, but the bumps are incredible,” he said.
“There are a lot of them and we are struggling a lot, because every time we hit them our bike shakes a lot.
“It’s really difficult to hold onto the bike and that means I’m not concentrating on the braking for the next corner.
“It’s taking a lot of time to try to figure it out and the balance of the bike isn’t good.
“The turning is quite nice, but the problem is the bumps. The biggest one is from Turn 3 into Turn 4 and coming out of Turn 9, when you hit the apex.
“They’re so big there, and it’s a high speed part of the track so the shaking always increases.
“I have to reduce the throttle and I’m losing a lot of time. That’s the reason we’re struggling; the problem is too big for us and we need to find a solution as soon as possible.
“Like this, we can’t finish the race, because even after 10 laps I get arm pump and I can’t hold onto the bike.”
“I don’t know what the fuck they did but they made it worse” :: Jack Miller
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo was quick to point out that the conditions are the same for everyone – but still admitted that Mugello felt more like an off-road track to him.
“There is more grip than last year, but the track is similar to a motocross track!” he said.
“There are a lot of bumps. It is possible that there’s more grip, but we need to adapt.
“The first exit in FP1 was really difficult to manage, and in the end it’s important to manage what we’ve got and try to be consistent.”
With his usual frankness, Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller stated that while he’s thankful for the extra grip over last year – addressing a major concern among riders – the resurfacing job is a disaster.
“Especially in the fastest sector, it’s really quite bad, although the bonus is that we’ve got grip because last year we didn’t have any,” he said.
“But it’s not even a year old and it’s really bumpy. I don’t know what the fuck they did but they made it worse.
“The bike just starts shaking and bouncing through the back sector. One lap you can get through there OK but then the next lap you can barely keep the bike on the track.”
The only rider to speak out in support of the new surface was Aprilia’s Bradley Smith, who has double the experience of the rest of the grid there after testing at Misano back in June.
Admitting that it’s not perfect, he nonetheless says that time has been a factor in helping the new asphalt settle and smooth out,
He also offered a bit of hope for his opponents by suggesting that Aprilia has fixed some of the issues by playing with the RS-GP’s set-up.
“Honestly I felt like it was better this weekend than in June,” said Smith.
“Of course they’re still there, but they’re better than what we had a couple of months ago.
“I don’t know if that’s bike balance or if they’ve changed a couple of things, or if you just notice them less when you’ve been back riding the bike for a while instead of sitting at home for a couple of months.
“We’ve played with the front fork setting to iron them out, but I wouldn’t say there’s more here than any other place.
“You can definitely see where they are – I saw a couple of guys crash in Moto2 at Turn 14 and there are a few nasty ones on the entry there.
“I’m not going to start saying the track is like a motocross track, because it feels better than it did!”