The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced MotoGP organizers to cancel all non-European rounds throughout the 2020 season. After 14 months without hosting a Grand Prix event, Circuit of the Americas (CotA) in Austin, Texas, welcomed the MotoGP paddock on October 1-3, 2021. However, premier class riders were less than impressed with the condition of the circuit’s asphalt.
While the bumpy pavement didn’t factor into the end result, with Marc Marquez outrunning the field by nearly five seconds, the irregular tarmac did lead to various crashes throughout the race weekend. As a result, MotoGP organizing body Dorna mandated that CotA organizers repave sections between turns 2 and 10 and turn 12 and 16 or the series would not return in 2022. The track owners quickly responded to that ultimatum, starting the four-week resurfacing project in January, 2022.
“Large-scale repaving work has been taking place on the Circuit of the Americas in recent weeks,” stated CotA in a prepared statement. “CotA officials worked with consultants to inspect the tarmac and identify those sections of the track that needed to be renewed. Georadar and laser systems, as well as software, were used to map the route and determine the necessary repair work.”
With the Grand Prix of the Americas taking place on April 10, 2022, FIM Safety Officer and former 500cc Grand Prix champion Franco Uncini traveled to the Texas track to confirm the results. Uncini not only inspected the track on foot but also piloted a production Honda sportbike around the 3.4-mile course.
"How wonderful it is to ride a motorcycle around the GP circuit in Austin," exclaimed Uncini. “I inspected the route with the motorbike!”
Following Uncini’s positive ride, he informed MotoGP top brass that the resurfacing job was satisfactory and complete. In turn, the Safety Commission informed the premier class riders that the series would indeed return to the U.S. in 2022. With the COVID-19 restrictions easing and CotA freshly repaved, it looks like we won’t have to wait another 14 months before the Grand Prix paddock comes back to the States.