The man setting the best lap of the opening MotoGP practice session of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who went round the 4.216km track in 1’51.507s in wet conditions.
With the riders lapping more than ten seconds off the sort of pace that would be expected on a dry track, it was Pedrosa who adapted best to the conditions on his factory RC212V as he produced his best time on the sixth of just 16 laps.
Late charges from Pedrosa’s former team-mate Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and the reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) saw them place themselves in second and third positions on the timesheets, with times respectively 0.155s and 0.307s behind the Spaniard.
Like Hayden and Rossi, the Italian’s Yamaha colleague Jorge Lorenzo also produced his fastest pace on his final lap, putting himself fourth with a 1’51.894 time.
Satellite pair Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were fifth and sixth, with both hoping for good results this weekend as they attempt to secure 2010 rides.
The top ten was completed by Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), home rider Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing).
Aleix Espargaró got his first ever MotoGP ride in the session and did well to end up in 15th place, lapping ahead of Gabor Talmacsi and his temporary team-mate Niccolò Canepa.
- Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’51.507
- Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 0.155
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 0.307
- Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 0.387
- Alex DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 0.757
- James TOSELAND GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.381
- Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 1.421
- Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.621
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1.644
- Marco MELANDRI ITA Hayate Racing Team Kawasaki 2.083
- Mika KALLIO FIN Ducati Team Ducati 2.460
- Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 3.047
- Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 4.167
- Toni ELIAS SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 4.281
- Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Ducati 4.697
- Gabor TALMACSI HUN Scot Racing Team MotoGP Honda 5.087
- Niccolo CANEPA ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 6.737
— Ducati Report
The MotoGP World Championship returned to Indianapolis today and was again struck by the wet weather curse that saw last year’s race cancelled with eight laps remaining. Thankfully there was no sign of the high winds from twelve months ago and the first free practice session went ahead without delay, with the impressive Nicky Hayden and stand-in team-mate Mika Kallio lapping second and eleventh fastest respectively in the soaking conditions.
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati MotoGP Team) (2nd; 1’51.662)
“It feels good to be near the top again! The bike felt pretty good from the beginning and after trying something new on the other bike, which didn’t work, we went back to the standard setting and went from there. The track was really tricky because there were sections with a lot of standing water and others where the grip was amazing – you had to be really on your toes. Midway through the session a funny line formed – I’m not sure if some kind of chemical came up through the asphalt from when they cleaned it but it was pretty slick. Over the last couple of laps I just went for it because I knew I had a chance to be on top today and this is the highest I’ve been in any session this year. Truthfully though I need dry track time because I tend to start the weekend slowly and build up, so to lose a session to the weather is not an advantage to me. We need to start out strong in the morning and go from there. P1 would have been sweet but P2 at just a tenth of a second off gives us reason to smile. I’m delighted to be racing here at Indy so let’s hope tomorrow brings more joy!”
MIKA KALLIO (Ducati MotoGP Team) (11th; 1’53.967)
“I struggled for grip and feeling at the start of the session and that made it hard for me to get confident. The front spring was a little too hard and the suspension was sat up a bit too high so we went for some softer springs and that improved things. We also made a few small changes to the rear and the last run was much better – I think with a few more laps we could have made some big progress. I’m not happy because a 2.4 second gap to the leader is big but I think we can be much closer if I can find a little more feeling with the bike. They say the weather could be a lot different tomorrow, which would change everything again, so we’ll wait and see what happens.”
The first free practice session before the Indianapolis GP could not have started better for the Repsol Honda Team rider, Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard, who did the fewest laps at the legendary American track – 16 compared to the 24 completed by the local rider Nicky Hayden, who finished second – set his fastest one on lap 6 when rain was already falling heavily. Andrea Dovizioso, who did 23, set his best time on lap 9 but was one second and a half slower and more than aware that he will have to continue working on his rain set up if the race is in the wet.
The final minutes of the first session in the 125cc category saw rain falling on the American track, and this obliged the MotoGP riders – who went out just after the 125cc riders finished – to use wet tyres. The first day gave the Repsol Honda Team riders a chance to get their first contact with the peculiar American track, twisty and with several sections of different types of asphalt that made the work of setting up the bikes a little difficult. The weather forecast is for better conditions the rest of the weekend but after last year’s experience with hurricane Ike, the team will keep an eye on the sky and its possible effects on Sunday’s race.
Dani PEDROSA >> 1’51.507 secs, 16 laps, 67 km.
“This was a very good start to the weekend and in wet conditions we are looking in good shape. It was raining for the whole session and we had good grip, even though there were some big patches of standing water around the track. I felt confident and was able to push hard – and actually it’s been a quite long time since I’ve felt that confident in wet conditions and been happy to push to the maximum.
If it’s dry tomorrow, that’s also good for us, even though the only thing we can really take forward from today’s session is the gearing information. This track is unusual to ride because it’s been designed to run in the other direction and so the apex of some of the corners feels very strange. Still, even in the rain there is a unique atmosphere here and it’s a special place to ride.”
Andrea DOVIZIOSO >> 1’53.151 secs, 23 laps, 97 km.
“I was fast early in the session and overall I’m satisfied with how today went. It was a difficult practice session because it was raining a lot and the different types of tarmac at this track responded in a different way. There were also some big puddles out there which made things tricky. At the beginning I was riding with a good rhythm and going quickly, but I couldn’t improve my lap time at the end of the session because we decided to use only one tyre and spare our wet tyre allocation for the weekend. So by the end the tyres had become slick and it was difficult to control the bike, especially on the dark asphalt. I’m not worried about today’s position though. The conditions were particular for this situation and the weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is good, so I’m confident that I can improve.”
— Yamaha Report
Hot and humid weather gave way to heavy rain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this afternoon, bringing back memories of last year’s hurricane-struck race as the riders splashed through puddles of standing water. Today’s bad weather looks like being a one-off however and the forecast for the rest of the weekend looks much better. The Fiat Yamaha pair of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who has just signed a one-year extension to his current deal with Yamaha, finished the day in third and fourth respectively.
Rossi chose to sit out the first twenty minutes of the session in order to save mileage on his engine and only ventured out once the track was fully wet. The victor in last year’s storm, he was one of the fastest in the later stages on the soaking track and moved into third position on his final lap of the session, three tenths off Dani Pedrosa at the top.
Lorenzo gained his first ever wet-weather podium here last year and was happy to find that he felt just as confident this time around in the wet on his YZR-M1, continuing to set consistently fast laps throughout the soaking session and finishing under a tenth off the time of his team-mate. The 22-year-old is sporting a one-off ‘Captain America’ helmet here, inspired by the famous comic-book hero.
Rossi – Position: 3rd Time: 1’51.814 Laps: 16
“I sat out the first twenty minutes in order to save the engine mileage and by the time I went out it was very wet. Unfortunately the track wasn’t draining so well where there is new asphalt and in some corners it was quite dangerous with standing water and a risk of aquaplaning. This weather was unlucky but it wasn’t such a bad session and our pace and setting in the wet was quite good. We were able to improve the balance of the bike and if the conditions are like this again then we have some ideas to improve further. Luckily however it looks like the weather will be much better and so tomorrow we will start again from zero in the dry!”
Lorenzo – Position: 4th Time: 1’51.894 Laps: 23
“This track has three kinds of asphalt and in some places the bikes looked like they were at sea! The riding style was very complicated to get right today, above all in the first two sectors, but anyway I’m quite happy, especially because this is my first start after confirming that I’ll stay with Yamaha next year and I’m proud to be here. I felt quite confident today even in the bad weather but hopefully tomorrow the sun will shine and we can see where we are in the dry.”
“We did a few laps today because you never know what can happen with the weather and even though the forecast is good for the rest of the weekend, we need to be prepared for anything. We were strong in the wet today with Valentino finishing near the top so it was a useful session, but hopefully we won’t need this data for the race. Our real work should start tomorrow, hopefully in the sunshine!”
“Unfortunately today the rain got in the way of our plans and it was a slightly difficult first session in some areas, especially in the first two splits where there was a lot of water on the track. Overall however it was a useful day and we will be ready in case it does rain over the rest of the weekend. Now we’re looking forward to seeing how we are in the dry tomorrow.”
— Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi recorded the seventh quickest time at a rain-soaked Indianapolis today as the MotoGP field began testing for this weekend’s race.
Capirossi (1’52.928, 19 laps) used the wet track to full advantage as he was able to evaluate the new parts that were tested at Brno recently in completely different conditions. He set his quickest time on his penultimate lap of the session as he improved throughout the hour. Unfortunately for Capirossi, his session came to an abrupt halt as he high-sided his bike towards the end; he was uninjured and will be ok for tomorrow.
Chris Vermeulen (P12, 1’54.554, 20 laps) tried a new setting on his bike at the start of the practice, but had to come in to the pit-box early on to make some significant changes to the Suzuki GSV-R, causing him to lose valuable track-time. He continued to make several modifications to his bike and was quite satisfied that he has a good setting for Sunday’s race if conditions are similar to today.
The weather intervened just before the start of this afternoon’s session and heavy rain fell over the 4,216m Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Track and air temperatures were both in the mid 20ºCs as the rain cooled the surface dramatically from early warm and sunny conditions. Today’s fastest time was set by Dani Pedrosa on a factory Honda.
Rizla Suzuki has one more free session tomorrow morning, followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 28-lap race gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (19.00hrs GMT).
“It has been a quite positive day because we were able test the new chassis in the wet and the reaction was good straight away. I crashed right at the end of the session when I hit a big puddle of water and high-sided, but I am ok. I felt good on the bike today and that is very encouraging. From my point of view I really want some good weather for the rest of the weekend because I don’t like riding in the rain and for us it will be better to work on the bike in the dry.”
“We tried something different at the start, but the setting just didn’t work, I came straight in to get it sorted and we lost quite a bit of time as we made the changes. In the wettest part of the session the bike worked quite well and my lap-times in those conditions were quite good. Towards the end we made some fine-tune adjustments but I didn’t get a clear lap in to improve my time. I am quite happy with the bike, but we do still have a bit of work to do to get it spot-on in the very wet conditions. I am feeling quite positive and looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow – hopefully in the dry.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“After a successful test at Brno with some of the new stuff that Suzuki had introduced, it was good to be able to test them at a completely different circuit and in such different conditions today. Loris has struggled to be competitive in the rain all year, but the bike was much better here and he set his best lap in the later part of the session when the conditions were less favourable. He was fortunate that he is completely ok after his high-side and his attitude is totally positive about the direction Suzuki has taken for the future.
“It is quite usual to see Chris near the front in the wet, but that wasn’t quite the case today. His guys improved the bike throughout the course of the session and we’re convinced that if we have to race in these conditions on Sunday he will be competitive. That said, the fans at Indianapolis deserve better than to sit in the rain and we hope that the sun comes out and this venue can experience MotoGP bikes being ridden to the maximum.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone tyre compounds available: Front – Wet: Hard. Slick: Medium, Hard. Rear – Wet: Hard. Slick: Hard, Extra hard (asymmetric)
Rain hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway half an hour before the start of the first practice and lasted for the duration of the hour-long session, meaning that Bridgestone’s hard compound wet tyres, the only available wet tyre option this weekend, were used by every rider.
Being primarily designed for oval races held in dry weather, the steady rain produced a great deal of standing water around the 4.216km circuit, demanding much of Bridgestone’s wet tyres.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished the session fastest just ahead of local hero Nicky Hayden of the Ducati Team and Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, both of whom jumped to second and third respectively on their last laps. Indianapolis is a tricky circuit because it is composed of three different circuits in the form of the infamous oval, the existing infield used by Formula One and the new-for-2008 MotoGP-specific section from turns one to four.
Each section has a different track surface, meaning that grip levels and abrasion from the road differ throughout the lap. These changes in the surface are even more challenging when the track is wet as the rain affects the level of available grip from each surface in a different way. This makes it very difficult for riders to get a consistent feeling throughout a lap, and gives Bridgestone’s tyres much more to contend with.
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“For the second year at Indianapolis we have seen rain, which makes the track very slippery especially with the surface changes between the three main sections of the circuit. It also means that we still do not have much data for running in dry conditions here. There was a lot of standing water mid-corner which is when the tyres are under their peak load, so the conditions were very tricky. I am happy with the performance of our hard compound wet tyres today, especially with their ability to deal with the wide range of conditions we see as a result of surface changes during a single lap.
“The only other circuit at which we have used the hard compound wets so far this season is Sachsenring, where again we saw a great deal of standing water, so I can say they are performing well. If we have a wet race on Sunday I am confident of the consistency and durability of our wet tyres on this abrasive circuit, even if the track temperature is as warm as it was today at nearly 30 degrees Celsius which is high for rain conditions.”
— Minor Categories
The surprise pace man in the wet 250cc session was Frenchman Jules Cluzel who laid down a 1’53.512 lap midway through the practice on his Aprilia machine.
The Matteoni Racing rider, who has had a modest season since his opening round podium at Qatar also in wet conditions, was the fastest participant by a 0.732s margin ahead of his nearest rival, Spaniard Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team).
World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gilera) was third on the timesheet, with a time more than a second off Cluzel’s pace, whilst Czech competitor Karel Abraham crashed late in the session when pushing too hard and ended up fourth.
Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar) and Héctor Faubel (Valencia CF – Honda SAG) were fifth and sixth, with title-chaser Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Team) lapping in tenth place and standings leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team) placing discreetly down in 14th.
Last year’s Indianapolis 125cc race winner Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) showed his strengths again at the famous American circuit as the action got underway earlier in the day, the Spaniard lapping in 1’50.603 to head the FP1 timesheet for the single cylinder class.
The 20 year-old, who was also victorious in Brno two weeks ago, laid down his best time on the 20th of his 21 laps, before precipitation brought the riders back into their pit-boxes before the end of the session.
Second fastest was Terol’s former team-mate Simone Corsi (Fontana Racing), who was a tenth of a second off the pace man, whilst Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar), Sandro Cortese (Ajo Interwetten) and Marc Márquez (Red Bull KTM) all went round within 0.5s of Terol.
With Efrén Vázquez (Derbi Racing Team), Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), Sergio Gadea (Bancaja Aspar), Julián Simón (Bancaja Aspar) and Joan Olivé (Derbi Racing Team) all at the business end of the timesheet there were six Spanish riders in the top ten.