Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after qualifying:
2014 Indianapolis MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Fast Brits On Proddy Hondas, An Early Title For Marquez, And An Epic Moto3 Race
Is Indianapolis really a Honda circuit? With four Yamahas on the two front rows of the grid, you would have to say it wasn't any longer. There is a Honda on pole, but as that's Marc Marquez, that doesn't really count: alongside his perfect nine wins from nine races, he now also has eight poles from ten qualifying sessions. Any discussion of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different manufacturers at a circuit really needs to disregard Marquez at the moment. In 2014, the Spaniard is just too much of an outlier, as his ability to put a couple of tenths or more on the opposition at will demonstrates.
Behind Marquez, the grid looks a lot more interesting. Behind Marquez is exactly how Andrea Dovizioso bagged another front row start, the Italian grabbing a tow off the Repsol Honda rider to set the second fastest time. The tow had allowed Dovizioso to follow Marquez' "crazy lines" as the Ducati rider put it, and the extra boost of the new engine Dovizioso has at his disposal may have contributed. The engine comes with a new fairing with revised cooling, suggesting the changes are more to do with making the engine more reliable at the top end, allowing it to be revved higher for longer. Given the Desmosedici's propensity for going up in a puff of smoke – Dovizioso has already lost three of his twelve engines this year, Andrea Iannone has got through four – reduced friction and reduced temperature would be a boon.
Jorge Lorenzo is the last man on the front row of the grid, but he was not disappointed with that. It was important for the Spaniard to build his confidence at Indy, and qualifying definitely helped. Lorenzo remarked that he was closer to Marquez than at the previous race, and that's not just true of qualifying. Lorenzo's race pace is strong too, though still a way off that of Marquez. In FP4, Marquez was running mid 1'32s consistently, while Lorenzo was hitting low 1'33s.
Marc Marquez set the fastest time of the weekend in FP4, two-tenths of a second faster than Stefan Bradl's top time in the prior session. Marquez 1'32.391 left him half a second clear of the field with qualifying coming up in 40 minutes.
Pol Espargaro earned a confidence boost headed into qualifying with the second-fastest time, closely followed by Valentino Rossi to round out the top three.
Stefan Bradl charged to the top of the timesheet Saturday with a 1'32.522 that left him a mere one-hundredth of a second clear of Valentino Rossi (2nd). Jorge Lorenzo set the third-fastest time, another eight-hundredths back.
Andrea Dovizioso, who lingered in the top five for much of the session, held on for fourth fastest and Pol Espargaro put down a quick final lap to drop the fifth-place rider into sixth. That sixth-place rider, championship leader Marc Marquez, wasn't able to improve much on his fast time from Friday. Andrea Iannone, who held second for much of FP3, was pushed into seventh followed by Bradley Smith (8th). Two-time Indy winner Dani Pedrosa settled into ninth with Aleix Espargaro rounding out the top 10.
The top 10 FP3 riders will head straight into Q2 later in the day to set the top 12 grid positions. The rest of the field will head into Q1. The two fastest riders from Q1 also then will head into Q2.
For much of the session -- in ideal conditions without a hint of rain -- Marquez led the field. Within the first 30 minutes, the young World Champion had improved on his blistering Friday pace.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the first day of practice at the circuit:
2014 Indianapolis MotoGP Friday Round Up: An Improved Track, The State Of American Racing, And Yet More Silly Season Shenanigans
For the past four years, my coverage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has followed something of a ritual. The riders would ride the track. The riders would talk to the media about how awful the track was, the bumps, the different types of asphalt, the drainage covers, the joints between the tarmac, the corners which were too tight. I would write about what the riders had said in my nightly round ups. And I would receive an email complaining about what I'd written from IMS' otherwise excellent media office.
It's hard to blame Indy's media office for such a reaction. They are the best media office of all the circuits on the calendar, by a country mile, better organized and providing useful and timely information on everything happening on the track. It is part of their duty to handle criticism of the circuit, especially that coming from a bunch of Europeans only using half the real Speedway track, and requiring corners. They were only doing their job.
They will have a much easier job this weekend. Rider reaction to the changes made at Indy has been overwhelmingly positive, with barely a whisper of criticism of the track. The single surface on the infield is a vast improvement, the changes to the track layout make it much more suitable for motorcycle racing, and most of the bumps have been removed. The circuit is "more like a normal track," as Marc Marquez put it. Pol Espargaro concurred. Indy is "more of a motorbike track" the Tech 3 man said.
Colin Edwards To Enter Semi-Retirement Early: Will Race Indy, Silverstone And Valencia, And That's It?
Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.
Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.
Marc Marquez reasserted his season-long dominance Friday with a fast lap of 1’32.882 — the only rider to dip into the 1’32s in either free practice. Marquez's time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway put him slightly more that two-tenths clear of Andrea Iannone (2nd) and half a second in front of Jorge Lorenzo (3rd) as riders tried to work out the new lines and extra speed of the redesigned track.
Andrea Dovisioso improved on his FP1 showing with a fourth that put him just ahead of the circuit's only two-time MotoGP winner, Dani Pedrosa (5th). Stefan Bradl -- fastest in one of the four sectors -- came in sixth, ahead of a surprising Yonny Hernandez (7th) who was quick all session. Aleix Espargaro, who was running near the top of the timesheet early, dropped to eighth. And while Rossi improved on his FP1 time, he didn't improve nearly as much as his rivals which left him in ninth, seven-tenths of a second from the leader. The good news for Bradley Smith is that just like in FP1 he finished right behind Rossi. The bad news is that in FP2 it left him hanging on the bottom rung of the top 10.
2014 Indianapolis MotoGP Press Releases: Honda And Yamaha Riders React To New Surface And Layout After FP1
The Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha teams issued the following press releases after FP1 at Indianapolis. The Yamaha riders say it suits their bike better, the Honda riders say it doesn't suit the Honda like the old circuit did. Press releases appear below:
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDERS’ COMMENTS AFTER FREE PRACTICE 1
Valentino Rossi (1st; 1’34.535)
“I am very happy about the new track layout because it is definitely improved compared to the old one; it is faster and it makes easier riding the bike. The best and biggest step forward is the new surface, because this works very well. There's a lot more grip than last year and less bumps. I think the people here at Indy have done a great job. The first session has gone well but we must improve further. I am looking forward to this afternoon.”
Jorge Lorenzo (6th; 1’35.084):
With the Indianapolis Motor Speedway being just a few hours from the family home, it made an excellent setting for the launch of a new book by Earl Hayden, the father of the 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden and his racing brother Tommy and Roger Lee. In the book, entitled The First Family of Racing, Earl Hayden lays out the history of his family and their place in US racing, and the time he spent watching his sons race in national and world championships. The book also contains chapters by all of his five sons and daughters, describing their experiences in racing.
The book is available through the Hayden Brothers General Store website and on Amazon. The book will also be on sale on the Hayden Brothers stall, where Earl Hayden will be available to sign copies. Earl Hayden will be donating his proceeds from the book to a charity in Owensboro, Kentucky, an emergency shelter for abused children. Below is the press release issued announcing the book launch:
Earl Hayden launches new book, The First Family of Racing, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Valentino Rossi found something to like at the first free practice on the newly resurfaced Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday morning. Rossi’s 1’34.535 put him three-hundredths clear of Bradley Smith who, like Rossi, saved his fastest lap for the end of the humid session. Andrea Iannone, who had topped the timesheet with one minute to go, was relegated to third in the tightly bunched field
Pol Espargaro managed fourth, slightly more than one-tenth of a second behind the leader. Marc Marquez, who held a dominant lead midway through FP1, found himself pushed into fifth at the session's end, slightly faster than Jorge Lorenzo (6th) who sits half a second shy of his teammate.
Nearly all of the riders set times significantly faster than last year. Not only was the infield track resurfaced, it also was slightly redesigned to add flow and better connect the corners. The result shaved roughly three seconds a lap on average.
Rossi led much of the early session only to be supplanted by Marquez with a little less than half the session remaining. With seven minutes to go, Rossi lagged six-tenths behind the championship leader with Lorenzo nearly a full second back.
There are few motorsports venues more iconic than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Of the places I've visited, only Monza comes close: you can feel the ghosts of all the men and women who have raced there. With its massive grandstands and historic racing museum, the vast facility is breathtaking. It is a magic place.
Sadly, the magic is all around the 4 kilometer rectangular oval on which the Indy 500 is held, and not so much around the road course used by MotoGP. The rather tight, artificial infield road circuit feels very much like an afterthought, something retrofitted to allow a greater range of activities at the facility. If the oval layout is spectacular, the road course is positively pedestrian.
To the credit of the Speedway, they have done an awful lot to try to improve the track. Last year, there were at least four different types of asphalt around the circuit, and the infield section was considered too tight for overtaking maneuvers. In an effort to solve both those problems at a stroke, turns 3 and 4, turn 7 and turns 15 and 16 have all been modified. The changes are aimed at opening the corners up a little, making them a little faster and more flowing. The change at turns 3 and 4 should make for more natural corners, and a better transition back onto the outside oval. Turn 7 has been altered to open it up, making a more natural chicane rather than the right-angle corner it was before. Turns 15 and 16 are now a little more flowing, and again have been modified to provide a more natural transition onto the oval. At the same time, the infield has been completely resurfaced, so that it now has just one type of asphalt.
Press releases previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's MotoGP round at Indianapolis:
Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.
Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.
Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:
Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement