Casey Stoner: “We’ve always been happy here [Indianapolis] when we have rode here; especially in the dry, we’ve always felt comfortable, but things just haven’t worked out for the race. So we’ll see how we go this weekend. Things are a lot different this year, and hopefully we can be competitive.”
Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. It’s Round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship; still seven rounds to go. In the press conference today, the World Championship leader, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda. Casey has won six Grand Prixes this season. He has a 32-point lead in the World Championship. He’s been on the podium in the last nine Grands Prix, and he’s won the last two.
Sitting alongside him to his right is his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Dani’s fifth in the World Championship. He’s had two wins this season. He was the winner of the race last year after qualifying in fifth place.
To the left of Casey, Ben Spies. Ben, of course, is riding theYamaha. He’s sixth in the World Championship and, of course, Ben returns home to America, and he’s had his first Grand Prix victory ever and that was at Assen earlier this year.
The far end, ladies and gentlemen, the former World Champion, of course, Nicky Hayden; Nicky riding the Ducati. He’s seventh in the World Championship. He’s had that podium finish in Jerez. He has an excellent record at Indianapolis: Second in 2008, of course, when the hurricane came, and third in 2009 and that was Nicky’s first podium riding the Ducati.
At the far end, ladies and gentlemen, Marco Simoncelli riding that San Carlo Gresini Honda. Marco secured his first-ever MotoGP podium at the last round at Brno in the Czech Republic. He was the 250cc winner here two years ago in 2009. Marco three years ago, he was on pole position for the 250cc race that was never held because the hurricane did arrive. Poor Marco, there was no 250cc race.
We start, of course, with the championship leader, Casey Stoner. Casey, I think we said exactly the same thing at Brno, you arrive here in pretty good shape.
CASEY STONER: Yeah, definitely, you know, we’ve had a couple of tough weekends leading up to the races the last two race weekends. We’ve managed to pull things together by Race Day and get ourselves up front. So we’re definitely arriving here with a little bit more confidence. Things weren’t looking good the last two weekends, but the way race days went, we couldn’t ask for more. So we can hope that we can improve our weekend a little bit more here. We struggled way too much at the last one and took too long a get set up. So if we can get set up a little bit faster here this weekend, it’s going to be a little more relaxing. But we’ve also got to ride with this new surface. It’s going to be interesting to see what it’s going to be like, how much grip we have and how the weather works out for this weekend. Last night the weather, there was quite a few storms in and around the area. But as far as we can see, the weather looks like it’s going to be good for the weekend. We have to wait and see how it goes and do the best job we can over the weekend.
Q: Indianapolis, no podiums. You’ve had your ups and downs here, haven’t you; you missed the race also a couple years ago?
STONER: Yeah, I’ve only done two races here. One of them we were struggling a little bit more in the wet. And the other one last year we felt we were fast enough to get on the podium, but we didn’t finish the race. So I think it’s a circuit I’ve always been pretty competitive at. We’ve always been pretty happy here when we have rode here; especially in the dry, we’ve always felt very comfortable, but things just haven’t worked out perfectly for the race. So we’ll see how we go this weekend. Things are a lot different this year, and hopefully we can be competitive.
Q: It is a special place, though, isn’t it? Just driving in here, you know that this is iconic, I suppose is the word. It’s a very special place to race motorcycles.
Dani Pedrosa: “In the past it was very tricky because of the change of the asphalt, also the bumps. But now it’s completely a new surface, so we have to check for how the grip is on the new section. And that’s going to be tricky for the tires and for the performance of the bike, but as soon as we can do some laps and get some rubber on the ground, maybe the track conditions will start to be a little better.”
STONER: Yeah, it’s definitely a place where I want to come to in the future to watch those grandstands fill up. That’s something I think would be quite spectacular. But as far as bike racing goes as well, you know, it’s always turned out to be a reasonably good race. And, you know, it’s a very hard track, very challenging. It’s not sort of normal braking and turn and exiting corners. There’s tricky little sections to it and also some faster sections that take a little bit more guts than some corners. So I will be looking forward to attacking this track with the Honda and see if we can get around here quick enough.
Q: Just talk about Brno the Monday after the Grand Prix win. You had the test and you, again, tested the 1000cc bike. From what you said and the pictures I saw, you seemed to be enjoying it.
STONER: Definitely riding the 1000 is a little bit more fun, in my opinion. Just to have that much more grunt and to be spinning up in the high gears, fourth, fifth gear we’re still able to spin up quite easily. It’s just a lot of fun to have that much torque coming out of a corner. You can ride a gear higher, it’s not the fastest way, but to feel that power coming out of the corner is something different. I can’t say it went perfectly, I think we’ve got some big steps still to make forward. But, you know, we’ll see how they go in the coming tests that we’re going to have. But, yeah, it was still a lot of fun to ride that bike around and after a good weekend everything seems to go pretty well. We’ve still got some work to do, for sure.
Q: Casey, thanks very much.
Q: We come to Casey’s right, ladies and gentlemen, of course Dani Pedrosa. Dani won the race here last year. You’ve got a good record here, Dani. Hasn’t always gone your way but you’ve always done well in qualifying and the race as well.
DANI PEDROSA: Yes, in the past I’ve been quite good in this track. I did one pole and one win, so it’s pretty good. Last year the race was amazing for me. Of course, to do after the race the picture on the line with the mechanics was very, very funny, and I liked that picture a lot. So I hope this year we can have, also, a good weekend and try to do a good race.
Q: Obviously, the disappointment at Brno, but you were on pole. Since you’ve come back things have gone well for you, haven’t they? The form is there, and the fitness, I would imagine, is nearly there.
PEDROSA: Yeah, of course, every week I feel a little better. The stability of the shoulders are coming better. Of course, my feeling is going well now. It’s not as it was before I broke the two collarbones, but it’s still good for riding. I hope I can feel well on the bike this weekend. Last race was a disappointing result, but the weekend overall wasn’t too bad. So I was very happy about the performance and just hoping to repeat here and finalize with a good race.
Q: As Casey was saying, it’s a tricky circuit, isn’t it? It’s a difficult circuit, Indianapolis, and, of course, you also have the new surface.
PEDROSA: Yes, it’s true. In the past it was very tricky because of the change of the asphalt, also the bumps. But now it’s completely new surface, so we have to check for how is the grip on the new section. And that’s going to be tricky for the tires and for the performance of the bike, but as soon as we can do some laps and get some rubber on the ground, maybe the track conditions starts to be a little better.
Ben Spies: “It’s a huge race. It’s being in Indy. It’s great, it’s another home race for me and, you know, a lot of support here from the crowd, family, friends, all that good stuff. So, yeah, we try to do the best we can.”
Q: Just finally at the Brno test was there, you were there as well on the Monday. Did you enjoy it as much as Casey?
PEDROSA: Yes, of course, to be back on a bike with much more torque, it’s enjoyable. The front wheel is all the time trying to make a wheelie and that’s kind of fun. I mean, it’s hard to keep the wheel down all the time. But, yeah, in general overall for the first test the bike was working quite well. Of course, it’s still needing to do some improvements on it, but pretty much OK.
Q: Dani, thanks very much.
We come to Casey’s left, ladies and gentlemen, of course Ben Spies. Ben rode here in 2008 on the Suzuki and, of course, last year first-ever pole position in MotoGP, second in the race, fresh from the victory in Assen. This is the big one for you, isn’t it, Ben, Indianapolis?
BEN SPIES: Yeah, it’s a huge race. It’s being in Indy. It’s great, it’s another home race for me and, you know, a lot of support here from the crowd, family, friends, all that good stuff. So, yeah, we try to do the best we can. We have some, a couple new pieces this weekend and hopefully to make the bike a bit better. Then we see. The track surface is definitely different, so it’s going to be not relearning the track but there’s definitely going to be some differences from last year. You know, I think everybody’s got to cope with that in a different way and we have to see after tomorrow and I look forward to it. It’s a great weekend, and just like I said, being able to race at Indianapolis is huge and ready for it. Just we’ll see and attack every session and see how we can do on Sunday.
Q: Fitness-wise, you were having trouble with a trapped nerve that was making your arm go numb. Will you know until you actually go out there tomorrow if it’s cured?
SPIES: Yeah, I mean it’s just one of those frustrating things, you know, just not knowing. But I’ve done everything we could in the last week off, and it’s definitely better. It’s coming into a weekend knowing you’re not 100 percent on top of everything is frustrating, but it’s not going to stop us from trying. It didn’t at Brno, and we give it 100 percent, whatever we’ve got in it. It’s going to be 100 percent of that. So I can’t say where it’s at right now. Honestly don’t know, but we get on the bike like usual and try to go as fast as we can, and that’s all we can do.
Q: Brno, you obviously stayed on for the test despite the problem. You rode the 1000cc bike? What was it like?
SPIES: Not too many laps, but it was fun to feel the torque, like they said, of a new bike and a 1000cc. I pulled out of pit lane and straight was on the rev limiter every gear because the RPM is so much slower than the 800 and finally started shifting the thing correct that’s when you’re like, ‘Holy shit, this thing is going fast now.’ Get to your normal brake marker for an 800, and you realize you’re going way too fast. It’s fun and it’s got the raw power. And you cannot make mistakes, but if you do make a mistake, you can get out of trouble a whole lot easier. Yeah, I can’t wait to ride more. Yamaha did a great job for the first time rolling the bike out. We were quite fast on it without changing much, and hopefully there’s a whole lot more to come.
Q: Ben, thanks very much.
We come to the far end, ladies and gentlemen, of course, Nicky Hayden. As I say, Nicky second here in 2008, third in ’09. Home race, Nicky, but you were the only man that has actually ridden on the new surface, albeit on a road bike. Can you learn a lot from that just how the surface will be?
NICKY HAYDEN: No, not really. Riding a street bike around, I mean, since you already know the layout, and there’s not a lot of blind corners here; it doesn’t really help. But it was a good experience to come up here. We rode with the onboard camera and talked some local journalists through it and stuff. So it was more for show. Rode around and did
Nicky Hayden: “You never really know with a new surface if it’s going to wear the tires a lot or not but the pavement is really, really smooth, almost like glass. So I don’t expect any tire wear issues.”
some wheelies and stuff. The new surface is a lot smoother than it was, and it’s not near as patchy. From Turn 4 all the way to the finish, it’s going to be the same pavement. So I will be anxious to get out there tomorrow and see how quick it comes in and get some rubber down. The track not normally — the infield only gets used once a year pretty much for bikes. So see how quick it comes in and, you know, what it does to the tires. You never really know with a new surface if it’s going to wear the tires a lot or not but the pavement is really, really smooth, almost like glass. So I don’t expect any tire wear issues.
Q: You’re the local man. We turned on the television yesterday and saw this hurricane along the East Coast, it’s not going to come here, is it?
HAYDEN: I’m not the weather man. I mean, I don’t know. (Laughter) You can plan a picnic but can’t predict the weather, as they say. Actually the forecast I’ve seen looks perfect for racing, pretty cool, and we’ll see.
Q: Yourself, every time you sit down we say it’s been a difficult year. But there is some sort of way forward, you’re going to ride the GP 11.1.
HAYDEN: You’re losing track, don’t you?
Q: Yeah, you do lose track. But I’m right, aren’t I, you are going to ride the GP 11.1?
Q: And you did have the test obviously at Brno on the Monday?
HAYDEN: Yeah, tested the bike in Brno. I rode it one session at Laguna, but there I only had one bike and it was a race weekend and just didn’t feel it was the right time to try to get up to speed on it. After Brno, we tested it and had a pretty solid day. You know, we didn’t break any track record or wasn’t out there doing mid-56s or nothing, but I was a lot more consistent and was definitely a bit quicker than I was on Sunday.
So I’ve got to thank Ducati for getting me that bike because it’s definitely more in the direction of the future. You know, when it first came up, I didn’t know when I was going to get it, and they’ve worked hard to give me an opportunity to have it. And I’ll have it hopefully for the rest of the season without any problems and definitely it’s got a few advantages to it. So hopefully I can do it justice and get some good results, and starting this weekend would be a good time to start. Like you say, it has been a hard year. Me and the whole team could do with a couple results sometime here pretty soon.
Q: The Honda men and Ben, the Yamaha man, are going on about the 1000cc bikes. How do you feel about it all?
HAYDEN: Well, I’ve ridden our 1000 twice; I rode it at Jerez and in Mugello. Like they say, it’s definitely — the bike is not — actual physical size and things like that on our bike is all the same, it’s mainly the engine. I enjoyed it a lot, especially Jerez is a tight track; we could hardly open it up around there. We won’t know until we get on the track with everybody else to see what we’ve got. But this is the last stretch run on 800s, so focus on that and Valencia will be the next time I ride the 1000, so we’ll see. I think it will be a fresh new start for all the riders and fans and teams, and everybody in MotoGP. I think it will be a good shot that everybody can get excited about.
Marco Simoncelli: “I try for all the season to get a podium and finally I had success. I am really happy about this. And now I hope to continue in this way for the rest of the season. I show in practice a very good speed, and now I hope to continue to show the speed, also, in the race.”
Q: Nicky, thanks very much.
We come to the far end, ladies and gentlemen, of course Marco Simoncelli. As I said, Marco scored his first ever MotoGP podium two weeks ago now, in the Czech Republic. You have a good record here in the 250 here at Indianapolis. At last you’ve done it, haven’t you? You’ve got that podium, now you want to go from there in the last seven races.
MARCO SIMONCELLI: Yes, of course. I try for all the season to get this podium and finally I had success. I am really happy of this. And now I hope to continue in this way the season. For all the season I show in the practice a very good speed, and now I hope to continue to show the speed, also, in the race and to continue this way.
Q: And Indianapolis is a track, I think Casey summed it up perfectly: Tricky, isn’t it? It’s not easy.
SIMONCELLI: Yes, of course, it’s not easy, especially with the, with all the surface was very easy to do mistake because there were a lot of bump. Now I don’t know. I do one lap walking before and it seems pretty, pretty good, a lot smoother. But I don’t know. We have to test tomorrow and understand, but, sure, is a difficult racetrack and you have to keep concentrate for all the race because the race is very long, 28 laps. So is sure it will be a not easy race.
Q: And seven more races, you’re eighth in the World Championship. In some ways lots happened to you this season. It doesn’t really reflect how well you’ve gone a lot of the time this season, doesn’t it?
SIMONCELLI: No capisce.
Q: I’m sorry. In the World Championship you’ve had good qualifying, you’ve had good races, and things have gone wrong. Really you should be higher.
SIMONCELLI: Ah, yes, of course. I hope this for me. My potential is higher than the eighth position in the championship and sure I try to do my best in these races until the end of the season, to improve the position doing my best in each race.
Q: Marco, thanks very much.
SIMONCELLI: Thank you.
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, that’s me. So if you want to ask a question, just put your hand up. We’ve got microphones at the side.
Q: Casey, are you as comfortable riding now as you were when you won the World Championship?
STONER: I think honestly every season I’ve become more comfortable, you know, than what I was when I won the championship. It was only my second year in this category. Little by little I’ve just got more experience and more comfortable with my riding. So I think some of my best races are the ones I haven’t won that people don’t really see. Maybe I’m off the podium, but they’re the races I feel I’ve ridden the hardest and ridden the best to achieve the result that I have. But, yeah, I think every year you become a better rider.
MODERATOR: Anybody else?
Q: Ben, which arm was giving you the trouble?
SPIES: Left arm.
Q: Dani, what’s it going to take to catch Casey? Mr. Lorenzo said today that he just seems so much faster than everybody else.
PEDROSA: You mean —
Q: Just to catch him for the series.
PEDROSA: In the championship?
PEDROSA: In the points?
Q: Yes. (Laughter)
PEDROSA: Is far away now. There’s no way now. (Laughter)
HAYDEN: Kidnap him. (Laughter)
PEDROSA: What this mean?
HAYDEN: It means take and disappear. (Laughter)
MODERATOR: Anybody else today? Are you sure you’re all happy?
OK. Thank you all very much. We’d like to stop for the picture. Thank you.