MotoGP machines saved in Austin pit fire
A fire in the pit garage of the Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas has caused extensive damage, but fortunately Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith bikes were saved.
The fire was believed to have been sparked by a one of the external electric motors used to start up the engines on the race bikes. A battery on the motor, which was charging overnight, caught fire and set-off the blaze.
The track’s modern fire sprinkler system quickly doused the blaze, but also drowned the surrounding garages which included the Yamaha Factory Racing, LCR Honda and Cardion AB teams. All crews have been drying out equipment and counting the relatively minor costs.
“Unfortunately there was a small incident inside the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage overnight,” said Tech3 team boss Herve Poncharal.
“The process of starting a MotoGP machine requires an electric starter and overnight they are left on charge. This is standard procedure and something we have been doing ever since the introduction of the four-stroke era.
“Unfortunately in the night one of the batteries caught fire. We have suffered quite a lot of damage and of course it is not ideal preparations but thankfully the fire prevention measures undertaken by the Circuit of the Americas and the assistance of the local Fire Department were invaluable in limiting the damage.
“The sprinkler system was immediately activated and fire crews on scene promptly and I am grateful for that. We will be conducting a thorough investigation to find out why this issue occurred and take the necessary steps to ensure it is not repeated in the future.
“I would like to apologise to the Yamaha Factory Team, LCR Honda and Cardion AB too, as the sprinkler system was also activated inside their pit area as well. But it could have been much worse and with the fantastic support of Yamaha and others in the close-knit MotoGP community, I am confident we can participate in this weekend’s race without any additional problems.”
Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis was thankful for the modern fire systems at the brand new circuit.
“I think if we hadn’t been here, in this circuit, with these excellent facilities, we’d have lost probably six bikes,” Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis told Motomatters.com.
“We’ve lost computers, we’ve lost TV screens, monitors, servers, all of our crates are full of water, so that means all the gear’s filled with water, all the spare parts, so you know, it’s an issue, it’s a big issue.
“We’ll be able to race this weekend, we’re quite confident of that, but we have to really look, we have to take everything to pieces basically, and then dry everything to make sure we don’t have corrosion issues.”
First practice for the inaugural Austin MotoGP gets underway Friday local time.