Championship points leader Jorge Lorenzo contemplates the meaning of life and wonders if Rossi on a Ducati will change the world as we know it.
Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo leads the rest of the 17-rider MotoGP field into Indianapolis this weekend for the third running of the Indy U.S. Grand Prix. Lorenzo heads the field by 77 points as riders prepare to tackle the world famous yard of bricks, a track which has treated the Spaniard well in the past. The man from Mallorca won last year in dramatic fashion, after title rivals Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa both crashed out, giving the soft-spoken star one of his biggest career MotoGP wins. Expect Rossi and Pedrosa to once again be Jorge’s biggest challengers, as both have had class-leading speed since Indy’s inception in 2008.
Lorenzo has been the class of the field this year, bar none. With seven wins to his credit thus far and nothing less than a second-place finish all season, the young Yamaha rider has shown that he truly is the prince of MotoGP, pushing headfirst for King Rossi’s crown ever faster. He heads into Indianapolis in the best place a rider can be – fresh off of two consecutive wins, well rested and heading to a track he loves.
“The first back-to-back races in the second half of the season are coming, and this first one is after a few days of holiday in the U.S. for me,” said Lorenzo. “This weekend will be the second race in this country in 2010 and I am looking forward to it because I would like to repeat the same result as I got in Laguna! I have good memories from America, last month in Laguna and last year in Indy.”
But with 77 points in hand and well on his way to his first career MotoGP title, don’t expect Lorenzo to engage in any heated on-track battles. “Last year was amazing, but this time I don’t need to take too many risks,” he added. “We can avoid it! Indy is a track that I like a lot and it has amazing history. The team and I are planning to continue our great season there this weekend.”
One rider who will engage with anyone who tries to get in his way is Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa. Looking to make up for crashing out of the lead last year in Indy, as well as two rounds ago at Laguna Seca, the diminutive Spaniard won’t be making things any easier for Lorenzo.
“I’m going to Indianapolis in a very good mood and I’m feeling ready to finish the job we weren’t able to complete in the race there last time,” Pedrosa commented. “I felt really comfortable riding in Indy last year. I was on top of the timesheets from the first practice, I took pole position and the only mistake I made was in the race. So I hope this time we can put together a strong weekend and take another good result.”
Another two weeks since the last round in Brno means another two weeks stronger that Rossi’s injured leg and shoulder will be, no doubt making him another two weeks faster. And a faster Rossi is a scary Rossi for the competition. Last year the Fiat Yamaha superstar raced Lorenzo for the lead when an uncharacteristic crash at mid-
This will be the last time U.S. Yamaha fans will get to see Rossi and their beloved brand take to the track together on home soil. The question remains, are there more die-hard Rossi or die-hard Yamaha fans? Bike sales this time next year should answer that question.
distance put him out of the race. With the weight of his Ducati announcement finally off his shoulders, the GOAT can once again focus on winning races, like he did in the inaugural running at the Brickyard in ‘08, a race which ended in hurricane-like conditions.
“Indianapolis is a special place, an amazing track and as always it’s fun to race in America,” remarked Rossi. “I have great memories from 2008 when I won in the hurricane, even if it’s not something I want to repeat! This year we arrive in a different situation to last year, fifth in the Championship and not at 100% physical condition, but I am feeling stronger all the time.”
Ducati’s Casey Stoner should also run well. He may not have the best history in Indy, which includes completely missing the race last year due to his mysterious illness, but as one of the four ‘aliens’ one can never count him out. After a recent string of podium finishes and a positive test the Monday after the previous round in Brno, the Australian will be looking to close the gap to the lead trio and get back up on top of the podium, something he hasn’t done for over a year now.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Indy because it’s a circuit where we were in good shape in 2008 despite the crazy weather,” said Stoner. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to race last year but hopefully this time around we can make the most of the work we did in the Brno test, even though we didn’t have much time.”
Pedrosa comes into Indy “in a very good mood and ready to finish the job.” Upon hearing that, the rest of the competition is suddenly no longer in a good mood.
Stoner made headway at the recent Brno test and aims to put his developments to use in Indy. “We’ll start out on Friday with the new front fork because our first impressions of it were good although we still have to decide whether we’ll use it for the race,” he continued. “We’ll also try some settings on the rear that we managed to get a few laps on at Brno but that also need checking out.”
Homeboys Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, and Colin Edwards will all be looking to upset the regular front runners at America’s second home race of the season. For Hayden it almost truly is a ‘home’ race, as Owensboro, Kentucky is merely a couple hours South on the interstate. Hayden had a promising start to the season with four fourth-places and regular podium challenges, but a recent string of falls and set-up issues has kept him scrambling for answers and outside the top-five. But the middle Hayden brother will be looking to change that in Indy, a track that has been very kind to him. He has finished on the podium in both of the races held in Indianapolis thus far, last year’s podium responsible for more-or-less saving his MotoGP career.
“I really cannot wait to get to Indy for the race. It’s such a famous track with so much history and being so close to my home I got a big crew making the trip to support me and my brother,” said Hayden, whose younger brother Roger Lee is riding for American Honda in the Moto2 ranks as a wildcard.
Homeboy Hayden isn’t about to let a chipped bone in his arm get in the way of a spraying a little post-race bubbly with “them models on the podium.”
The only thing potentially holding Nicky Hayden back from spraying champagne is a chipped bone in his left wrist, the result of a crash in practice at the previous round in Czech. He rode through the pain in Brno to finish the race a respectable sixth and still tested the Monday after looking to find the last couple tenths needed to run up front on his factory Ducati.
“My broken wrist is better than last week in Brno, which I am very happy about, so we’ll see on Friday just how much better,” he added. “The weather looks good so I hope to come out strong from and have a weekend worth remembering. Let’s get it on!”
Another real spoiler for the front four, looking to add a second podium to his already impressive rookie season resume, is Texas Terror Spies. The Tech 3 Monster Yamaha pilot has previous experience at the yard of bricks, riding in the inaugural event for Suzuki as a wildcard and finishing an impressive sixth. He comes into Indy this time around fresh off his first front-row qualifying performance and a strong fourth-place finish in Brno. Riding a wave of confidence on one of the few tracks where he has previous knowledge, Spies will be looking to capitalize, his eyes no doubt focused on the podium. Who knows, maybe even that top step. On a side note, it’s also expected to be announced that he will be moving up to team with Lorenzo in the factory Yamaha garage next season, taking Rossi’s departed seat.
If Spies’ (11) nickname is ‘elbowz’, does that mean we should start calling Edwards ‘neckz’? Both will be looking for home glory this weekend. ‘Elbowz’ could be a serious spoiler for the four ‘aliens’.
Spies’ Tech 3 teammate Edwards comes into Indy in what is looking like the final season of his MotoGP career, as it is widely known that he is very close to signing with Ducati to go back to World Superbike next year. The Texan has publically said he doesn’t want to finish his riding career taking eighth places in MotoGP and that he wants to go out winning races. And winning a race is something that has eluded the Texas Tornado during his entire MotoGP tenure; he has literally been within feet of victory only to fall short. With it being what may be his final visit to the U.S. as a Grand Prix rider, the thought of Edwards departing with that oh-so-special first victory would be the ultimate Cinderella Story. It’s going to be a tall order, as he’s been a consistent back-of-the-top-10 finisher this season, but we can guarantee you the thought has crossed his mind more than once and he will be giving it 120% to try and join the GP greats in the pages of history.
Repsol Honda’s second rider Andrea Dovizioso has had a somewhat up-and-down season thus far, with a very strong beginning making way for a rocky past few rounds. The Italian has shown flashes of brilliance this year and as a result sits fourth in the championship, only four points back of Stoner in third. He looks to be the final rider with a real shot at the podium under normal conditions. But this is Indy and anything can happen, so be sure to stay tuned right here for all the action!
The big news in Moto2 in Indianapolis is the three Americans. There’s no question that the eyes of a nation will be fixed on series regular Kenny Noyes and his two fellow Yankee wildcards, Roger Lee Hayden and Jason DiSalvo. The biggest hoopla has surrounded Hayden and his American Honda-funded and Erion Racing-run effort. Former American MotoGP World Champion Kevin Schwantz was drafted as the team manager and with three private tests prior to the race, one last week in Indianapolis, they are looking to break through the incredibly-close competition of the middle Grand Prix class to try and run at the front.
Roger Lee Hayden should probabaly try and diversify is riding portfolio a bit. In the past 12 months he’s only raced Daytona SportBike, World Superbike, MotoGP and now Moto2. Until you’ve raced in at least five different world championships in one season you’re basically a one-trick pony.
Hayden, who will be riding a Moriwaki-framed machine, said after the test last week: “The track is really nice. We’d like to get a top-10, which will be difficult. We’re going to have to do our best, riding my best ever. The bike’s going to have to be performing well, but that’s our goal.”
Noyes will continue his first full season of Grand Prix racing, one which has seen a relatively decent amount of success for the rookie. A pole position and a host of top-10 finishes have been the highlights, as the California-born Noyes tries to break into the racing elite aboard the Jack&Jones by Antonio Banderas Racing (yes, that Antonio Banderas) entry. Noyes was able to log two, 90-minute practice sessions during the two-day Indy test last week, though due to current class rules he had to ride a borrowed bike from a local club racer, as full-time riders aren’t allowed to test with their race machines during the season.
“It actually seems more of a simple track on paper than when you get out there. It’s got some corners where it’s really important to line up for the next transition,” Noyes said. “It’s a really good thing that we got out here and got to see it so on Friday we’re not so far behind like we’ve been at so many other places.”
Last-minute wildcard entry DiSalvo will ride for the GP Tech team, a US-based tuning house that specializes primarily in club racing Grand Prix machines. With one previous test under his belt on the FTR-chassis machine, DiSalvo has a lot riding on the race, his racing career on the brink of destruction after parting ways from his Triumph World Supersport mid-season under turmoil. The New Yorker believed his bike wasn’t up to par to those of his front-running teammates, which kept him from showing his true potential. Now he will be aboard what is known to be a very competitive chassis with a spec engine, so he should have no excuses. As a rider with a fair deal of Grand Prix experience, DiSalvo has publically stated this is a make-or-break opportunity for him.
When 40 riders all qualify within two seconds of each other and the reward for winning is international fame and glory, this is what tends to happen.
As for the regulars, Toni Elias comes in fresh off another victory in Brno and holding a 55-point lead in the championship. Seemingly on track to win the inaugural Moto2 championship, Elias has his sights set higher, aiming to impress the powers-that-be in MotoGP to get back on a team in the premiere championship. Left out to dry this year despite being one of only a handful of riders to ever beat Valentino Rossi in a straight up battle, Elias knows it’s contract time. He has been in talks with Suzuki about returning to the big show, so his third-consecutive race win is what Elias will be aiming for.
“I like Indianapolis, it’s one of my favorite tracks,” said the Spaniard. “We’ll see how the bike feels there. We must improve in wet conditions because we suffered a lot. The situation is good overall though. When I was a child I always liked America and it would be nice if in two weeks I could take a third-straight victory.”
The other stand-out of the season has been Fimmco Speed Up’s Andrea Iannone. Currently second in the championship, he’s been one of the only riders to take a commanding victory this season, as he simply walked away from the field in Holland at the Assen TT. The Italian trails Elias by 55 points and will be looking to repeat his Dutch runaway to make up ground in the championship chase.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the world’s most historic and awe-inspiring racing venues. If you’ve never been, it’s time to go. And if you’ve already been, you’re probably going back. See ya there…
Other consistent front runners include Tech 3’s Yuki Takahashi and Interwetten Moriwaki’s Thomas Luthi, both of which have been on the podium recently. But the real action will without question come from throughout the field. With many of the grids featuring 20-plus riders all qualifying within a second, the Moto2 racing this year has produced some of the best bar-to-bar action in the racing world. And Indianapolis will surely be no different. So keep your monitors plugged in and mouse on the pulse at Motorcycle-USA.com for all the news and results up to the minute and live from the 2010 Indy MotoGP