Majority of safety concerns for riders ahead of the inaugural MotoGP round in India have been unfounded as they are looking forward to race at the Buddh International Circuit. (More Motorsport News | More Sports News | Streaming)
The track, which hosted Formula 1 races from 2011 to 2013, has been modified to suit the requirements of two-wheel racing.
The modification includes extension of the gravel traps around the track to make it safer for riders in case they go off it.
Air fences and foam barriers have also been installed to ensure riders' safety.
The Formula 1 track layout had 16 turns at the BIC but the one for MotoGP will have 13. The track has one of the longest straights on the calendar, thus increasing the possibility of riders touching the record speed of 370kmph.
After taking a walk on the track on Thursday, the reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia was among a host of riders who were left impressed with the layout.
“To start with, I had no issues with the Indian visa, this was already a good thing (laughs). I had the chance to do two walking laps. I think the layout is interesting nice and different to other tracks. It could be great. It will be interesting to ride tomorrow considering the run off areas in some part of the tracks, that looks a bit short," Bagnaia said.
“Speaking with the safety commission, they tried to explain everything and they have reasons to say it is okay. I think we should be okay,” said the 2022 world champion and current championship leader from Ducati.
Some of the riders and team officials experienced a delay in getting the visas due to a technical glitch but the problem was solved swiftly by the organisers.
The opening practice session will be held on Friday with the qualifying on Saturday, followed by the main race on Sunday.
Marco Bezzecchi, who is third in the championship, also praised the circuit facilities.
“I like it a lot to be honest. Also the paddock is very well organised. The pit lane is very beautiful. The track looks fantastic, mix of corners I really like. The long straight is impressive. Can’t wait to ride,” said Bezzecchi.
The six-time premier-class world champion Marc Marquez, who arrived only on Thursday due to a visa delay, too is looking forward to the race.
“The layout is nice. If the grip is good on the MotoGP bike then it will be even nicer. In dry conditions no problem to ride. In wet conditions, need to understand," he said.
Incredible we don’t have Indian riders in MotoGP
After seeing the amount of bikes on roads in the world’s largest two-wheeler market, Bagnaia was surprised that no Indian had made it big in motorcycle racing.
“Considering the amount of bikes we see here on the streets is incredible we don’t have an Indian rider. We need some academy to try push an Indian rider in the World Championship,” said the Italian rider.
“Mahindra was a great school of learning”
Mahindra Racing pulled out of Moto3, a junior series to MotoGP, back in 2017. The four riders who attended the first media interaction here on Thursday had a strong connect with the team. They included Bagnaia, Jorge Martin, Brad Bird and Marco Bezzecchi.
“I had my first podium riding for Mahindra powered bikes in Moto3. The riders that moved up from Mahindra, they have done something incredible. It shows it was a good school. The level of the bike was good but power was missing. It puts you in a situation you have to do maximum every time. It was the best moto3 team I had,” said Bagnaia, who is informally called 'Pecco' in the paddock.