Riders speak ahead of Indy MotoGP
Round ten of the 2015 season sees MotoGP return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the second half of an enthralling championship gets underway on American soil.
The Indianapolis circuit is 4.170 kilometres in length and features a ‘stop-and-go’ layout with slow corners separated by short straight sections which place an emphasis on good rear traction and braking stability. The circuit is run in a counter-clockwise direction, with ten left-hand turns compared to six right-hand turns.
The sequence of corners from T12 to T14 Indianapolis generate very high temperatures in the left shoulder of the rear tyres, making asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the left shoulder a necessity at this circuit.
Last year, the circuit was re-surfaced and had several corners modified, resulting in lap times improving by approximately six-seconds compared to the old layout. As a result, the severity of the Indianapolis circuit has increased significantly and overall, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the more severe circuits on Bridgestone’s rear tyres.
Rear slick options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compound, while the Aprilia, Ducati, Suzuki and Open-class riders are allocated the soft and medium compound rear slicks. Front slick compounds for all riders at Indianapolis are the soft, medium and hard compounds while the main wet tyre is the soft compound, with the hard compound wet tyre being the alternative option.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department – “The recent re-surfacing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway means that there’s only a single type of tarmac on the infield section, so the old issues of having various levels of grip around the circuit are no longer. Although the layout of the circuit was also modified last year, the overall character of the track is one of many low-speed corners which place a strong emphasis on good acceleration. The layout of the circuit puts greater stress on the left shoulder of the tyres, mainly due to the sequence of corners from T12 to T14 which generates very high temperatures. Therefore, to ensure adequate temperature resistance and durability, we supply asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the left shoulder at this circuit. The front slick compounds for Indianapolis are from the harder end of our compound range for maximum durability and braking stability at this ‘stop-and-go’ circuit.”
Last year‘s Indianapolis Grand Prix saw a brilliant scrap at the front that resulted in teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo taking a double podium finish behind race winner Marc Marquez.
While Marquez’ win last year was his tenth consecutive victory, season 2015 is looking very different with instead the Factory Yamaha men dominating proceedings thus far. Rossi in particular has enjoyed a very successful first half of the season. He has finished on the podium at every round so far, led the standings from start to date and claimed a GP win in Qatar, Argentina and the Netherlands. Having been able to fully recharge during his holiday, the Doctor returns to the scene ready for action and aims to extend his championship lead over the coming nine rounds.
Thanks to his strong start to the season, Rossi leads the championship with a 179 point total and a 13 point gap to Lorenzo in second place. Though both riders admit that Indianapolis is not their favourite circuit, they like the layout that consists of 16 turns and an incorporated main straight of the famous oval.
Valentino Rossi – “I’m ready to start racing again during the second part of the season. I had a few days of rest, I went on holiday with my friends and I also trained. After nine races, this stop was very important so I could recharge myself. Now there are another nine races waiting for us and each of these will be very important for the championship. The first part went very well with nine podiums in nine races and I hope that the second part of this season will go just as well. Some of the tracks we‘re going to I really like, I have to be defensive at others. We start with Indianapolis, not one of my favourite circuits but there‘s always a great atmosphere here and the circuit is very nice. I’m ready to go!”
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo had a challenging start to the season, but made a sensational comeback at Jerez. This home race victory marked the beginning of a stunning four GP winning streak that lasted until Assen. The summer break not only gave the Spaniard time to unwind but also allowed him to get his physique up to a new level, leaving him ready to give his all during the rest of the season.
Jorge Lorenzo – “The summer break was a good chance to rest and recharge our batteries for the second half of the season. I was able to enjoy some sunny days at the beach but I also trained a lot in California and Brazil, where I spent many days before Indy. I feel great, I‘m in a very good shape and ready to face the important second part of the season. The first half was not so bad considering the beginning, so we are feeling very positive and hopefully we can fight in the best way possible with Valentino and Marc. Usually Indy is not one of my favourite tracks but I‘ve won there in the past. Last year the tarmac improved a lot but its layout is different to that of other circuits. I think we can contend for the podium again so we need to be very focused during the whole weekend to try to gain valuable points.”
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a perfect 1-2 finish in Germany before the break.
Both Marc and Dani have enjoyed fantastic success here in the past few years, with Marc winning on four occasions – 2011 and 2012 in Moto2, 2013 and 2014 in MotoGP – and Dani on two occasions – 2010, 2012 – and taking second in 2011 and 2012. Honda have celebrated ten consecutive wins on American soil (since Indianapolis 2010).
Marc Marquez – “It’s been great to have some time off to recuperate and recharge the batteries ready for the second half of the season. After the Misano test I went to Ibiza with some friends for a week which was fantastic, and much needed! Then we resumed our training schedule in order to prepare for the coming races. Now we are on our way to America for the Indianapolis GP. I love racing on American soil and appreciate the enthusiasm of all the fans. I like the Indy track it can be tricky with the changes in asphalt but as always we will work hard from Friday, and get back into our rhythm as quickly as possible!”
Dani Pedrosa – “I feel relaxed and ready for the second half of the season after this brief Summer break. We enjoyed a good end to the first half of the season with a good race in Germany and then a productive test in Misano. Then I headed home and enjoyed some time on Lake Geneva with some friends, taking some important time away from it all. Even though I’ve been relaxing I’ve been continuing my recuperation on my arm and then started to get back into my training to be ready for Indy this week. I’ve had pretty good results at Indy in the past so my aim is to arrive there and fight again for the victory. It can be difficult to setup the bike here with the varying grip levels so we will have to pay attention to this.”
Last year Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso started from the front row of the grid with the second quickest time in qualifying, and finished the race in seventh place, while the Italian’s other important results here were in 2012 when he took the third podium place, and in 2008, 2010 and 2011 when he finished fifth.
Andrea Dovizioso – “Indianapolis will be an important weekend: it’s a circuit that in our opinion should be more favourable to our GP15, and it will be useful to see how fast we are at this point of the season. The tests at Misano were very important for us because we were able to work in total relax, without the pressure of a race weekend, and do a lot of back-to-back tests. I hope to bring a halt to my negative run in recent races with a good performance at Indy and to get a good result on a track where last year we went quite well.”
In his two MotoGP races at the Indiana oval, Andrea Iannone has not yet stepped onto the podium, the Italian picking up a DNF in 2014 and an eleventh place finish in 2013.
Andrea Iannone – “The Indianapolis track is an interesting one, and last year I went quite well. Unfortunately in the race we had a few too many problems, but our overall performance wasn’t bad. This year I think I can do a good race with the GP15: I am always positive and this year I have more reasons to be so, in particular because I am third in the championship. I hope I can be quick right away and get closer to our opponents than in the previous races.”
The two factory Suzuki GSX-RRs will take to the track of Indianapolis dressed-up in the same iconic colours that debuted at the last GP at Sachsenring as a tribute to the long-winning history of the GSX-R model, and which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year.
Espargarò and Viñales both come from an intense training program that kept them busy during the summer break with the objective of keeping their physical condition at the very maximum for the demanding effort that a MotoGP machine requires. Their holiday started after the Misano test in mid-July, where they further investigated the GSX-RR’s potential and found new set-up options for the machines during the grand prix weekends.
Aleix Espargaro – “The race in Indy will be fascinating becasue of the long history that goes with the circuit, but it won’t be that easy for us. The layout worries me a little because of the long straight, but at the same time I’m excited to get back to racing after the positive tests we did in Misano before the break. We had the chance of veryfing and developing many things and at the end we collected much data for all the forthcoming races. We are half-way through the season and we have made big improvements since the beginning, the team is working hard and I am focused on getting some good results. My position in the championship doesn’t reflect the effort that we are putting in and the improvements that we have made, we need a little more luck for the upcoming races and I’m sure that we will have even better results.”
Maverick Viñales – “This summer break has been very positive for me, I could train a lot and get ready for the second-half of the season, but we also made the tests in Misano and the outcome was really important. We could learn a lot about the machine and find new directions to follow for its set-up. We know that we need to be more effective from the very beginning of the race weekend and be immediately competitive in order to develop the bike and be fast in qualifying, therefore improving our start position. This is crucial in all races. Indy will be fascinating, as it is such an historic circuit, but it will also require us to make a big effort to be competitive, thanks to its layout. After the first half of the season I feel that the team is giving me every support and this summer break has meant that I could train hard, so I’m feeling in good shape to get back riding.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro look optimistically towards the Indianapolis Grand Prix this weekend. Both riders are feeling confident after winning together in the legendary Suzuka 8 Hour race for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team as they clinched a superb hat trick including pole position, the fastest race lap and the victory.
Britain’s Bradley Smith undertook a highly successful run in the opening nine rounds and currently sits in joint fifth position in this year’s World Championship standings as he leads the MotoGP satellite battle by 21 points. The 24 year old rider will intend to improve on his result of sixth from last year, at the tenth race of the season.
Bradley Smith – “It’s time to go back to work and jump on the Yamaha at the Indy circuit which is a track with such a huge amount of history and it’s always fun to go racing there. The summer break was great for me, although there wasn’t a lot of rest! Pol and I contested in the Suzuka 8 hour race which we were able to win after the special support from Yamaha. It was a dream come true, although not just to compete in it, but to also finish first! The whole thing really fills me with confidence for the second part of the year in MotoGP and I am certain that I can continue my strong form from the opening nine rounds where I finished no lower than eighth in all of the races. In my first year in the premier class, I completed this GP in eighth and then last year, sixth and I hope to go one step further this year! Our base setting has worked really well at all of the races so far, therefore hopefully we will have a good start and get everything ready for the main event on Sunday, even if it’s quite a tricky circuit to master. However, I am ready for the battle and can’t wait to speed over the bricks on my Yamaha in Indianapolis.”
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Pol Espargaro will aim to bolt forward when the lights go out in Sunday’s 27 lap sprint and fight for a top finish aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard has fond memories of the GP after finishing last year’s event in fifth and will seek to kick start the second half of the year with a strong showing.
Pol Espargaro – “I am really excited to get on the YZR-M1 in America and start fighting in MotoGP once again. It was amazing to not only participate in the Suzuka 8 Hour race, but also grab pole position, set the lap record and win the event! Yet, this weekend it will be time to switch to MotoGP mode and put my Monster Yamaha Tech3 leathers back on which I am primed for. I am feeling optimistic of repeating last year’s result of fifth and we know we can run close to the factory bikes, which is what I will be aiming for. In terms of the track itself, it’s a bit challenging with ten left corners and six right, but coming out of that last corner and speeding down the famous straight is awesome! For sure, it will be a long event on Sunday but if we do our homework and get my Yamaha setup in the right way as soon as possible, then I know we can achieve a solid qualifying position and run well in the race. I am looking forward to putting on a good show for the superb American crowd as well as to seeing my Monster Yamaha Tech3 team again.”
Cal Crutchlow currently lies in eighth place in the series, just a point behind his factory colleague Dani Pedrosa, and so will be hoping to score some good points this weekend as he aims to cash in on Honda’s recent upturn in fortune. The British rider has enjoyed time back home on the Isle of Man as well as at his base in Tuscany, where he has been training hard over the summer break to prepare for this weekend’s tenth round of the championship.
Cal Crutchlow – “This is a really important grand prix for us, and I am really looking forward to getting back on the bike after three weeks away from our sport. Everybody deserved a bit of a break and some down-time. It’s good for me, and good for the whole paddock, but it’s nice to regroup with the team and get ready for the second half of the year. Honda have been working hard even in the break so I am really looking forward to the next races. Two races back to back is a nice start to the second part of the season especially on these two circuits (Indy and Brno).”
The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding has endured a difficult start to his first season aboard the factory Honda RC213V but, having spent time reflecting on his performance during the summer break, he heads to Indianapolis quietly confident of improving his results during the second half of the season.
The Indianapolis circuit remains one of Redding’s favourites, especially since the changes to the layout last season, with the 22-year-old Briton having twice finished on the podium there in the Moto2 class previously.
Scott Redding – “I really like the Indianapolis circuit, especially with the changes they’ve made to make it more flowing. It’s always been one of my favourites on the MotoGP calendar. The summer break has given us the opportunity to think about the first half of the season; it wasn’t the start we wanted, but at the Sachsenring we definitely made a step, so I hope in Indy we can start where we left off and continue to make improvements to the bike, my lap time and my consistency. I actually feel more confident now I’ve had some time away from the paddock, so I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
Michael Bartholemy – Team Principal Marc VDS – “Looking back, the first half of the season didn’t pan out as we were expecting, but we need to focus on the positives and look for an improvement in the second half. The team has worked tirelessly to get Scott more comfortable on the Honda RC213V, while Scott himself has had to significantly adapt his riding style to get the best from the bike. What we’re missing now is the consistency; the ability to run every lap at a similarly fast pace while building towards a fast flying lap in qualifying. We saw a step forward with consistency in Germany and, If we can continue to improve in this area then I think we will see an improvement in the results over the second half of the season.”
German rider Stefan Bradl will make his début on the Aprilia RS-GP for the American round. Bradl will then continue throughout the season on the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini alongside Alvaro Bautista.
At exactly the midway point of the season Bradl’s contribution could be decisive in continuing the project development process which is Aprilia’s primary goal in this rookie year of MotoGP. This is a progressive job that Bautista has been carrying out perfectly from the start of the championship, managing to consistently battle for points and, with the tenth place finish at Barcelona, bringing home a very encouraging result for the entire team’s work.
Romano Albesiano – (Aprilia Racing Manager) – “Stefan is a young rider with a lot of important experience and he’s fast, having won the Moto2 world championship title and taking home some good placements in MotoGP in recent years. We are expecting an important contribution from him in developing the RS-GP, working alongside Alvaro Bautista who has done a truly excellent job thus far. I would like to thank Michael Laverty for his efforts and professionalism during the German GP.”
Alvaro Bautista – “During the summer break unfortunately I didn’t have much time to relax. I would have liked to have spent some time on the beach, but it just wasn’t to be. In fact, after the Sachsenring race, my right forearm which had been operated on for compartment syndrome swelled up so I had to do physical therapy and undergo various medical checks. In any case, I’ll be going to Indianapolis very focused and intent on picking up on the development work carried out in the first half of the championship: Indianapolis is a very particular track since it was made to be raced on in the opposite direction, but we want to continue gathering important data here as well in order to define next year’s bike. I’d also like to welcome Bradl to the team: being able to count on a competitive team mate is definitely positive and I hope that together we’ll be able to move forward more quickly on developing the RS-GP.”
Stefan Bradl – “I can’t wait to get to Indianapolis and start this new, great adventure. It obviously won’t be easy at the beginning. I’ll need to get used to a new team and a new bike, so my main goal in this first Grand Prix is to begin getting to know my mechanics and familiarising myself with the way the bike performs. As for my injured right wrist, the situation is good: I am very pleased because my hand is no longer giving me problems and lately I have been able to do the same training programme that I did before my injury. During the summer break the healing process went well and on Monday the doctors gave me the all-clear to race at Indy. Recently I have also been Motocross training to check my sensations on a bike. I still don’t know how I’ll feel astride a MotoGP bike, but I think that by the time I arrive at Indianapolis I’ll already be close to 100% fitness.”
The summer break was a welcome opportunity for the two Power Electronics Aspar riders to rest up and prepare for a gruelling schedule between now and the end of the season, although neither Nicky Hayden or Eugene Laverty enjoy being away from their motorcycles for too long. The pair know that they are capable of more than they have been able to show in the first half of the campaign and for Hayden this weekend holds extra significance as Indianapolis is just a few hours’ drive from his home in Kentucky. As the only American currently in the series, Hayden is determined to fly the flag with pride in Sunday’s race.
Nicky Hayden – “I am excited to race at Indianapolis, my true home Grand Prix, which is really close to where I live. Unfortunately I had to miss it last year and it was tough to be there watching without being able to take part. It also means I haven’t had chance to evaluate the changes to the track myself yet although the feedback from the other riders was generally positive, so I’m looking forward to riding. We will be competing alongside the MotoAmerica boys, who will be riding from Thursday so there should be some rubber laid down for when we go out on Friday, which is good. It is no secret that the first half of the season has not gone as well as we’d hoped. I have had chance to rest up a little over the last three weeks and also get some training done. I am sure we will return at a higher level for the second half of the season.”
Eugene Laverty – “I feel 100% ready for the second half of the season. My body really needed some time to recover from a few big crashes lately so the time off was a welcome break. I enjoyed one week of holiday to recharge and prepare myself for the remaining nine races. I’ve learned a lot during the first half of my rookie season which ought to set us up for a strong end to the year. Things have been up and down but I’m confident that our speed is there to challenge regularly for Open class honours from here on. Indianapolis kicks off the second half of the season and the track looks fun to ride. I’m excited to see my bike again after a month apart!”
Jack Miller is head leading Honda rider in the Open category, MCNews.com.au recently spoke to the 20-year-old Australian ahead of the Indy MotoGP.
Jack Miller – “I am looking forward to starting this second half of the season. I really like Indianapolis and also Brno so I am looking forward to the next two races. I like the fact that they are really close together too, because it means we can get a lot of ‘playtime’ in a short amount of time! The bike should be more or less what we left off in Sachsenring and it is going to be quite interesting after a decent result there. So I am eager to start the practice tomorrow and with rain today, hopefully the weather can be a little bit better.”
MotoGP 2015 – Championship Standings
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 179 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 166 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 118 Ducati Team
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 114 Repsol Honda Team
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 87 Ducati Team
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 87 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 67 Repsol Honda Team
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 66 CWM LCR Honda
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 64 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 57 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 51 Pramac Racing
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 44 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL 32 Pramac Racing
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 30 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 19 Avintia Racing
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 14 Athina Forward Racing
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 13 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 12 CWM LCR Honda
- BRADL Stefan 6 GER 9 Athina Forward Racing
- PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 8 Ducati Team
- HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA 8 Aspar MotoGP Team
- LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 7 Aspar MotoGP Team
- AOYAMA Hiroshi 7 JPN 5 AB Motoracing
- DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA 2 Avintia Racing
- DE ANGELIS Alex 15 RSM 1 Athina Forward Racing