Indianapolis Motor Speedway plays host to the second and final U.S. MotoGP round this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. Having been added to the calendar in ’08 this year will be the fourth time the MotoGP boys have raced around the Brickyard’s 2.621 mile, 16-turn road course.
Earlier this summer, IMS repaved a large portion of the circuit in order to remove some of the bumps and pavement inconsistencies that developed and played a part in a few crashes over the years. One and a half miles of fresh asphalt was laid between Turns 5 through 16. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, who hails from nearby Kentucky, tested the new surface a few weeks ago and was delighted by the work completed. Says Hayden: “The bumps are definitely gone, although I’d say it will take some time on Friday to clean it up and get some rubber down.”
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner is in the driver’s seat of this year’s championship with a 32-point advantage over Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo with seven races left. The ’07 World Champ has won more races than any other rider this year (six) but has failed to ever step on the podium in Indianapolis.
“In the past seasons the track at Indy has been extremely bumpy and also slightly dangerous, so I’m looking forward to going there and riding the new surface,” said Stoner. “It will also be nice to ride the Honda there, as it took a lot of work to get the set-up right on the Ducati at such a peculiar circuit. I’ve only ridden the circuit in 2008 and 2010 and we were pretty competitive there last year, but then I lost the front in the race, so it will be good to get there, test the new surface and get to work on the set-up on my RC212V.”
Even though Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, is well out of range in terms of championship points, the Spanish rider could be a threat for the win if he’s fit enough and can maintain his flying pace for the duration of the race.
If Lorenzo wants to secure another World Championship this season he’s going to need to start winning races. And based on his results in the last three years he’s plenty capable after having finished on the podium every year, including a win in ’09.
“Indy is a track I really enjoy,” says Lorenzo. “I treasure wonderful moments like the podiums in 2008 and 2010, and my victory in 2009 wearing Captain America’s helmet. I am now in good shape and am ready to regain the ground we lost in Brno, where a mistake put a distance between Casey and I. I hope the good energy I feel in this track will still help us to fight for the title.”
American rider Ben Spies is another rider who is capable of putting it on the box this weekend. Spies recorded a second-place finish here last year on a lesser-spec satellite Yamaha YZR-M1. Now that he is on a full-fledged factory bike he certainly has the capability to secure his second career win on Sunday. In recognition of Yamaha’s 50th anniversary of Grand Prix road racing both Lorenzo and Spies will run special red/white livery.
American Ben Spies had a solid second-place finish at Indy last year and returns with high expectations.
“I’m really hoping to be completely fit for this weekend,” Spies said. “I’ve still got some numbness in the arm but it is better than it was at Brno. We’ve been working hard to get it right and we will of course give it 100% as always. I’ve been looking forward to this race all year; it was pretty crazy last year as a rookie to take pole and a second in the race. We’re going to put on a good show for all the home fans and see what we can do.”
For the most part the Ducati team has struggled this season. Though after a successful test at Brno a few weeks ago it claims it’s in a better position to challenge for the front. Both of its riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi have had success here at Indianapolis.
“I’m looking forward to this event,” commented Hayden, who only lives a few hours from the track. “I always enjoy racing at home in front of friends and family, but I need to go there and focus on my job. I want to try to do a good result while also having fun and enjoying the weekend. The team has worked really hard to get me the opportunity to ride this new bike, and now it’s up to me to try and pay them back with a good result.”
“Indy is a difficult circuit,” explained Rossi. “And although it’s not exactly one of my favorites, we’ll see how we perform there with the Ducati. They resurfaced part of the track, so the conditions should certainly be better from that point of view. We made a little progress with the GP11.1’s set-up during the Brno GP, and we’ll see if we can confirm them at
this next race. Anyway, racing in America is always nice for me, as I enjoy both the atmosphere and the fans, who are always very passionate. On the other hand, I’m very sorry that we’ll be missing someone who undoubtedly followed our sport, though not at the track: Claudio Castiglioni (read MV Agusta’s Castiglioni Dead at 64) was very passionate and he did a lot for the motorcycle world, and for me in particular when he helped me get started in racing in Sport Production 125 when I was 14.”
In support of the MotoGP class, the Moto 2 (Honda CBR600RR-powered prototype chassis machines) and 125 (classic 125cc single-cylinder two-strokes) classes will run as well as the newly formed AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series.
Make sure to visit the Motorcycle-Superstore.com booth inside Gasoline Alley in the vendor market place. Stop by and get a chance to win a $500 shopping spree or pick up some free ear plugs and noise makers.