MODERATOR:Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on a scorching, hot afternoon. All the riders are already here. We can actually start a press conference early, which would be the first time we’ve ever done that ever.
In the center, of course, Valentino Rossi, the winner of the race here last year, the World Championship leader; of course, the World Champion. Just interesting enough, the last 20 races Valentino has been on the podium 18 times in the last 20 races; and in those 20 races, he’s won 11 of them, which is a pretty incredible record. Those are Dr. Martin Raines’ stats, not mine.
Dani Pedrosa to Valentino’s right, of course. Dani won the race, the last race in America at Laguna Seca; eighth in the race here last year. I think it was Dani’s first ride on the Bridgestone tires; fourth in the World Championship; and I said, of course, the winner at Laguna.
To Valentino’s left, his former teammate, Colin Edwards. Colin is riding for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Team; fifth in the World Championship, including that second place at Donington Park in England, not the last round, the round before.
To the right of Dani Pedrosa, Toni Elias. Toni is currently 12th in the World Championship; and, of course, coming fresh from that brilliant third-place podium finish at Brno in the Czech Republic a couple of weeks ago.
At the far end of the left, ladies and gentlemen, of course, is Nicky Hayden. Nicky was second in the race here last year; of course, the former World Champion and 14th in the World Championship at the moment.
We’ll start with Valentino Rossi. Good to be back, Valentino? Indianapolis, it’s a very special place, isn’t it?
“So for sure if Sunday we have good weather, all the people, all the crowd will see another type of show, also 125 and 250 are also very fun, and this track is great, especially because the surface have an incredible grip. Also have some different surface during the lap. So I think if Sunday have sun is a lot, a lot more enjoyment than last year.”
VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes, it’s very good to be back, especially with this good weather. And yeah, this place is full of history, 100 years from the first race of motorcycles. So is, I go on the track today and is a good track, is a track built for going the opposite way from the Formula One in a lot of places. So the corners are a bit strange, but we have some important data hours from last year where we were fast on the dry and the wet. We are ready for the first start of the work.
ROSSI: Yes, because we hear a lot of rumors before that Jorge is maybe move to Honda or to Ducati. For sure if Jorge to change bike is a big, is a lot a lot of changes in MotoGP, no? And is interesting. But Jorge remain. I think he do the right choice because in this moment our bike is not the fastest on the straight, but is very good in the corners. We have good setting. We work a lot with the engineers, and the bike is well balanced. So I think at the end he make the right choice.
MODERATOR: And since we spoke to you last obviously after Brno, you had the one day test at Brno, how did that go?
ROSSI: Yes, we work a lot for next year but not for the last six races. So in the last part of the season the bike remain the same. We tried the new version of the M1 with a different chassis and we try, also, slightly different engine for next year to make more kilometers and we take some data, the lap time was not so bad. But now we have to be concentrated and focus on the last six races because I have a good advantage in the championship, but six races is a long, long way to go. And we will start to work on the 2010 bikes Tuesday after Valencia.
MODERATOR: Yeah, we spoke to Loris Capirossi earlier after he re-signed with Suzuki. He said Suzuki will start working now, testing now on the new Suzuki for next year because so few tests during the winter. That is important.
ROSSI: Yes, it’s a little bit what’s happened in Formula One last year, Ferrari, McLaren work very much on the current car for fight for the championship, but at the end, they are in the delay for this year.
Usually in Yamaha we work step by step, always is a small development, but usually in the right way. So for us, for sure, the main issue is make a lot of points and some other victories from now to the end of the championship.
MODERATOR: Valentino, thanks very much.
We come to Valentino’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Dani Pedrosa. Dani, you just walk into Indianapolis, and it’s just a special place, isn’t it?
DANI PEDROSA: Yes, it’s a very special place. It’s very traditional here for the racing. So it’s good to be here to have the championship racing at this place. I think for our sport is very good. And this morning we had even in the streets of Indianapolis, so it was great. I think here the people enjoy the racing a lot.
MODERATOR: Last year terrific reception for motorcycles here, a big crowd, just the weather that spoiled things, wasn’t it?
PEDROSA: Yeah, last year was difficult for everybody on the track, but looks like this year it’s going to be better. So we hope we can have the three races this time and the fans can enjoy all the classes.
MODERATOR: In Brno, obviously, you tested also for one day after the Grand Prix. Did you get through a lot of work?
PEDROSA: Yes, we did some testing, unfortunately after the break in the midday it was raining a little, and it was two or three hours we couldn’t test. But we did more or less a good test, especially in the morning, so it was good.
MODERATOR: It was quite interesting what Valentino was saying, also, about testing for next year because there’s a lack of time during the winter. Will Honda do that?
PEDROSA: I hope, because, of course, in the last years I couldn’t test so much and this year, this next year coming, I’m sure it will be much more crucial because not so many tests. And it will be important to be in shape soon.
MODERATOR: Just finally the Repsol Honda story, the signing, the non-signing. What is the latest? Have you actually signed a contract yet?
PEDROSA: No news. Just everything still the same as Brno.
MODERATOR: So you’re still discussing and still waiting?
PEDROSA: Yes, same situation as last race.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Dani.
“At the end of the day, I enjoy riding a motorcycle. So I’d like to stay where I am with everybody and with Yamaha. Of course, we have to see financially if everything fits together. “
We come to Valentino’s left, ladies and gentlemen, as I said, Colin Edwards currently fifth in the World Championship. Just saying, Colin, apart from the weather last year, it was such a fabulous event here, wasn’t it? I think motorcycles were made so welcome at such a car-orientated track and place.
COLIN EDWARDS: It was great. Apart from the weather and the cooler Styrofoam lids flowing across the track and tents falling over, I think everybody was pretty surprised how many people did show up. Looking at Saturday’s weather forecast, nobody was going to be here, everybody was running for cover, but they showed up. They were troopers and thanks to the fans that came out here, and this should be should be a lot better.
MODERATOR: What about the track itself? Valentino was just saying he’s been around it this afternoon, and he likes it; seemed to go down pretty well with the riders because there was a lot of discussion before we came here how the track would be, wasn’t there?
EDWARDS: Yeah, there was. You know, I mean I got so many memories of the Indy 500, my dad drunk watching it — (Laughter) — at home and taking care of him, and Danny Sullivan looping it (in 1985). That year, actually, Danny Sullivan looped out, and then he came back and won the race. The ironic thing is in 2000 I did the Race of Champions, and Danny Sullivan was one of my teammates at the Nations Cup. So that was all pretty cool. It was all intertwined in my head.
To come here and race motorcycles is really special. To run over the bricks, and, you know, the track configuration, anytime you try to put in a stadium like this, usually it doesn’t work out. But for some reason the track, the space is so big that you don’t feel like you’re in a stadium atmosphere. You’re kind of around the back, and it works out good.
MODERATOR: The season for you just fifth in the championship, obviously the very good result at Donington, you must be pleased with what’s going on.
EDWARDS: Yeah, it’s been good. The guy that came up with this five engines for seven races, I need to have a talk with him. I’m never happy about that. But you know, we do what we have to do. I think next year is going to be really difficult, I think, for everybody, six engines for 18 races. That’s a hint to everybody out there. We’re not in economic slowdown anymore, I think we’re coming out of it, so let’s change that rule quick. No, it should be good.
MODERATOR: And the future, we ask you every week, any further down the road knowing what you’re going to be doing?
EDWARDS: I don’t know, dominoes or marbles. I don’t know; we’ll do something. At the end of the day, I enjoy riding a motorcycle. So I’d like to stay where I am with everybody and with Yamaha. Of course, we have to see financially if everything fits together.
EDWARDS: Passport, got to make sure I have the right passport.
MODERATOR: Obviously, Jorge re-signing with Valentino and the Fiat Yamaha team, it’s made some difference to the whole situation.
EDWARDS: Yeah, I think he was the No. 1 domino. If he signed, everything was going to kind of fall into place. And he made the right decision. I mean, it doesn’t really matter what my opinion is, but I think personally, I think he made the right decision. So we’ll see. Everything still has to fall into place. As I say, it’s all going to line up.
MODERATOR: Colin, thanks very much.
Elias continues with finishing with solid gains as he shows he has the skills to take a bike to the top with his current ride ending this year.
Come to the far end, Toni Elias, riding for the San Carlo Gresini team. Toni, we spoke to you in Brno, one part of you was very, very happy, another part was very frustrated because you were saying, “What more can I do?” Is there any more news for you for 2010?
TONI ELIAS: I’m in the same situation, and I’m thinking the same. But it’s like this: I don’t know what will happen. I’m not worried about that. I try to be concentrate about my job and try to be at the maximum. Now I’m enjoying a lot with my bike, the setup, bike is OK. The last five, six races we are leading the second group, and this is good. We see the first four or five riders are very, very strong this year.
But future, if I have a good option, I’ll stay in MotoGP. If no, I will adapt and no problem. I believe in me. I think if it’s not this year, will be next or before — or after, sorry. And I think I am a good rider.
MODERATOR: I think we all agree with that, Toni. How difficult is it with you working with the team when you know next year that is it? Is it hard or does everybody just get on with the job?
ELIAS: No, I understand, I understood the situation. First of all, was Simoncelli because it was important for San Carlo. Then Melandri with Gresini and San Carlo wants 100 percent Italian team, and I understand this. It’s not a problem. I’m OK where I stay, but life is like this.
MODERATOR: After this weekend, we’ve talked to all the riders we’ve spoken to, you just walk into Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and you know you’re at a very special place.
ELIAS: Yes, it’s a very special place. I love to come here. Last year I was fast in dry condition, then I’m confident. I think we could do a good weekend here. I’m very confident.
MODERATOR: Toni, thank you very much, indeed.
Come to the far end, ladies and gentlemen, of course Nicky Hayden, a home race for Nicky. Nicky currently running 14th in the World Championship, but second in the race here last year, of course when Nicky was on the Honda. I think Colin summed it up in many ways for the American rider, for you being so close it’s special to be here.
“You know, I’ve been in this game long enough, I realize, like it or not, MotoGP is a business and, I mean, you look at the result sheets, maybe my results wouldn’t — they’ve got sponsors, people to please. I realize that I probably made some hard phone calls on Monday with some of them 12th places.”
NICKY HAYDEN: Yeah, it is. To have two races in America is really a privilege. I think I appreciate it more now because my first couple years in MotoGP, the closest we got to here was Brazil, and yesterday to drive here three-and-a-half hours is too easy, you know. I mean, I love being in Europe and the atmosphere there, but, you know, the traveling and stuff, I just forget how easy it is to drive up.
But yeah, obviously I’m looking forward to the weekend. I like the track and I like the place, and being in front of my home crowd is always worth a little something. So it’s been tough, it’s been a struggle, but I’m excited to be here and we’ll see what happens.
MODERATOR: It’s been a very difficult season. We’ve spoken about it a lot. There’s been sort of some false stones, hasn’t it? We keep thinking it’s looking better, then you go back, and then it comes back again. It’s been really up and down, hasn’t it?
HAYDEN: Hey, yeah. I mean, it’s been tough, sure, especially in the beginning. Certainly we didn’t start the season out very good with some big crashes. And then we made some changes to the team, but that wasn’t until Round 4. From there, things have been improving but it’s not — I mean, it’s hard to make progress here, but we have made progress and have gotten closer, you know, to that second group, obviously. The front group is still not on our radar, but, you know, it’s been a hard challenge but I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve worked hard and made a lot of progress. I really, even though it doesn’t look like it at times, feeling more and more comfortable on this bike and in this team. We’ve got six more tries, six more weekends to try to do something. It’s going to be tough but the team is working hard. Guys really have given me, you know, a lot better package. I feel more comfortable on it and I know how hard it’s going to be, but, hey, you know, it’s racing. That’s why we line up and see what happens.
MODERATOR: Expectancy will be high, won’t it, from the home fans and sometimes with the season you’ve had, that does make life very difficult.
HAYDEN: I’m sure some of the home people don’t understand. They think it’s your home track, you should just be able to go to the front, you know, and it doesn’t really go like that. Yeah, all you can give is all you’ve got. It’s not like I’ve been holding back anything and going to unleash it here.
Yeah, we’ll see. Hopefully — I probably didn’t have the ticket requests I had last year. Obviously, they’ve seen some of the results from this season and all found other things going on this weekend that they just couldn’t get away. So that’s all right. I’ve got a lot of support from my people around here and, yeah, I mean that’s not a problem.
MODERATOR: Just finally, Nicky, I think all the Europeans have never been to the (Indy) Mile which we went to last year, all looking forward to it again. It’s such a great event, I think especially for the Europeans who haven’t been before and it’s such an important part of American racing history, isn’t it?
HAYDEN: Yeah, it’s pretty good. I went last year and it’s good racing, and dirt tracking is where I got my start. It’s weird, struggling, not much sponsoring. But zero television basically and support from sponsors. It’s a shame the sport is not stronger because the racing is unbelievable. And those guys risk a lot and do absolute maximum, and a lot of them still have to work real jobs, which is just an absolute shame. But certainly I’d say come out; you’ll get your money’s worth. Last year was a great race and made me wish I was out there.
MODERATOR: Nicky, thank you. And good luck for the weekend.
MODERATOR: Any questions from the floor, ladies and gentlemen? Question for Dani.
Q: One question for Dani. Dani, have you tested the Ohlins suspension? I want to know something about it and if there is the possibility that you will use it in the end of the season.
PEDROSA: Yes, I used the suspensions in Brno, but the plan was after midday, so it started raining, so finally I did, I think, two runs or two or three runs only. And probably, I mean there is no plan to have it for the race, no.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Dani. Anybody else?
Q: Nicky, do you think there will be any kind of an announcement regarding your situation this week? What do you think it needs to —
HAYDEN: Not really. The only announcement really is Lorenzo is not taking my place. (Laughter) But that announcement, I guess, was last week. So I don’t expect anything this week. The due date is next week, so we’ll know something then maybe.
EDWARDS: I didn’t know you were pregnant. (Laughter)
MODERATOR: Anybody else, ladies and gentlemen?
Q: I have a question for Valentino and for Nicky and for Toni. All three of you have changed, have swapped manufacturers. Do you think that it is possible — I mean, Jorge decided not to — do you think it’s possible to switch manufacturers now with so little testing in the offseason? Or do you think it’s too big a risk to change to a completely different bike with only what, six days, eight days testing in the post season?
ROSSI: I think it’s possible, yes. For sure, it’s more harder than in the past because you have less chance to understand the bike. You have to do less kilometers in the winter. But is not a big, big problem, I think.
HAYDEN: I would say, yeah, it’s possible. Sure, it’s harder, like he said. I mean, I think also switching Honda, Yamaha is not the big change like going to Ducati or something completely different. (Laughter) Obviously, that’s my opinion. But, also, if you look at it, I mean the Japanese bikes all work in a similar way and do similar things; where Ducati is, you know, it’s a different manufacturer, I would say. Would be the same if you’re on 250 Yamaha, Honda or if you went to Aprilia would also be different. But now you don’t have the tires anymore. Now the tires is one less thing you have to learn, and in the past that would take as much time to learn as a bike.
ELIAS: I only ride satellite bikes. Then it’s difficult to answer this question. I think it’s not the problem if you have a good support. When you ask some parts in few days it’s coming, you know? Not like always when I ask something, they always say no. (Laughter) That’s my problem always.
Q: Valentino and Colin, if I could ask you this question. What do you think a full race here in Indianapolis in good weather will present on Sunday?
ROSSI: I don’t understand. Sorry, I don’t understand. Maybe you understand.
Q: Last year we didn’t have a full race and obviously bad weather.
ROSSI: Yeah, yeah.
Q: With a full race and good weather situation on this track, what would you expect on Sunday?
ROSSI: A lot better for sure. Yes, last year, you know, the condition are a lot, a lot at the limit and so it is important, especially the race of MotoGP but the weather is forecast for all the races. So for sure if Sunday we have good weather, all the people, all the crowd will see another type of show, also 125 and 250 are also very fun, and this track is great, especially because the surface have an incredible grip. Also have some different surface during the lap. So I think if Sunday have sun is a lot, a lot more enjoyment than last year.
EDWARDS: All of that stuff, plus — I mean, you know, it was a hurricane. I think the sphincter level will be a lot lower this year compared to last year. (Laughter) That’s probably the main thing I can expect. (Laughter)
Q: Dani, Ducati says they’re talking with you is still open, and maybe the decision of Lorenzo make the situation easier for you. What is the state of art of talking — the situation of talking about you and Ducati?
PEDROSA: Just talking because at this moment I didn’t sign, so, of course, if they are interested on have another rider, maybe they have to talk to the riders, but that’s all nothing. It’s nothing that’s clear at the moment for me. Just as I said in Brno, the things with Honda, that’s pretty much clear. That’s important. And that’s all. But nothing decided and —
Q: Is it an option or no for you?
PEDROSA: If I’m interested, then I can ask for an option, of course.
MODERATOR: Anybody else, ladies and gentlemen? The back here.
Q: Question for Nicky. Jorge was going to get your job, Loris (Capirossi) said that Ducati had approached them about riding. Dani, they’re talking to him. How hard is it for you to concentrate with all this going on in the background?
HAYDEN: You know, I’ve been in this game long enough, I realize, like it or not, MotoGP is a business and, I mean, you look at the result sheets, maybe my results wouldn’t — they’ve got sponsors, people to please. I realize that I probably made some hard phone calls on Monday with some of them 12th places. So do I like it? No, because it’s — when I look in the mirror, I see why they need to bring somebody else in because I haven’t got the results. So that hurts when it’s on the inside.
But, you know, it’s business. It’s no — they’ve got to do what they feel best. I don’t know if just bringing in new guys every year is the right thing, you know, is the best way to fix the situation. So we’ll see what happens. I’m still — I signed up for two years, so I still got this challenge and really feel like we can do it. I know still needs more time, but I’m not ready to give up just yet. So we’ll see what happens. If it works out, do I get my feelings hurt? No, I’m not that big a sissy. I mean they make me that offer they made Lorenzo, then all things will be forgotten, you know. (Laughter) Eight million a year will patch things up pretty easy, so we’ll be good. (Laughter)
Q: Is it hard to keep focused come Race Day on Sunday?
HAYDEN: No, on Race Day you’re not thinking about that, really. I know I’m not. I’m sure — I mean, yeah, you want a job, you want to do your best, but I mean you can’t just drive yourself crazy with it. That’s not going to change the situation. I mean, I’ve tried that before and it don’t help. So it will work itself out, I’m sure. But I mean, no — no.
MODERATOR: Anybody else, ladies and gentlemen? No?
Thank you all very much.