From his first lap at Austin last year at the test, the COTA circuit has showed itself to be a track that Valentino Rossi struggles to get around quickly.
It's not about which season's tires he is using, or any of the other distractions in the paddock. The Yamaha simply isn't suited to go from max lean angle to straight up all the while pulsing up through the gearbox. Or, isn't as well suited to the duty as the Honda is here at Austin.
"It's a good track for Honda," Rossi said, "and quite bad for Yamaha. We have some problem."
The sense that the only person who can beat Marc Marquez is Marc Marquez is growing steadily in the Austin paddock. His ability to pull a near full second out of his gym bag every time he walks on the court means that his rivals must stoop to hoping that Marquez will "over-try" and the result of that might give them some hope. They have to be putting their head on the hotel pillow at night hoping for a Freddie Spencer-level collapse by the young Spaniard.
How does Rossi sum up his friend Marquez's incredible pace at Austin? Rossi says the circuit suits the Honda, and Marquez really likes riding here, and it shows. "He likes it a lot, and is able to give ten percent more than the others," Rossi explained.
Marquez innocently says he's not sure how it is that he is so much faster than a grid full of the best riders in the world "Oh, I don't know," he shrugged yesterday.
"There are places on the track that he likes a lot," Rossi said of Marquez.
Taking the incredible pace of Marquez out of the equation, Rossi seems satisfied. "The balance of the bike is good and we are trying to use the hard tire, to use the hard tire in the race. We need to stay with Lorenzo, with Pedrosa. With Marquez? I don't know."
Early in Saturday morning practice Marquez shadowed Rossi for a few laps. He stayed a few feet behind the nine time champion and looked like he could pass him easily if he wanted to. But he didn't, even on the straight where he could have drafted by.
Marquez has something special at this track. No sense in showing the competition what it is until Sunday afternoon.