August 29th, 2010
There is something beautiful to be found in a form of racing that's less about technology and TV rights than it is about simply trying to beat the other fellah with whatever you can afford to bring to the track. Sometimes the other fellah isn't a fellah at all, and sometimes he or she has better gear than you. But you do the best you can with what you brought and even if it takes a quick wrap of duct tape or a tie of bailing wire, you do your damnedest to make it to the next heat.
You don't lounge in a fancy RV between races, and your bike doesn't arrive in a shiny tractor-trailer and it doesn't plug into a computer. You drive yourself, or your dad or your cousin takes a turn, with your bike in the back of the van or on a flat bed trailer, and you sleep in a well-used sleeping bag that smells of solvent and dust.
As widely expected, and anticipated here just a couple of days' ago, Nicky Hayden announced an extension of his contract with Ducati at the Indy Mile flat track race on Saturday night. The good news for Hayden is that the deal is for two years, with Hayden signed up for 2011 and 2012. Hayden told the crowd at the Indy Mile "Next year I'll be teamed with some guy named Rossi, who knows a little something about bikes."
With both Hayden and Valentino Rossi signed up for two years, Ducati is clearly playing it safe over the formula switch back to 1000cc, due to take place at the end of the 2011 season. This allows both Hayden and Rossi to test and develop Ducati's MotoGP bike for the new formula, maximizing testing without running the risk of losing knowledge should one of their riders want to leave at the end of the 2011 season. But with Hayden having made a huge leap forward this year, and his public profile in the US helping to sell Ducatis in large quantities both at home and abroad, Ducati also felt that signing Hayden was a safe bet.
Below is the text of the official press statement:
DUCATI ANNOUNCE A TWO-YEAR DEAL WITH NICKY HAYDEN
MODERATOR: Ben, quite a weekend for you. Up and down, as it has been for I think most people here at Indianapolis. First of all, congratulations, pole position. Two weeks ago was the first front row, and now you've gone one better in pole.
BEN SPIES: Yeah, it's a dream, I mean to have a pole position at any time in MotoGP and to be able to do it in the first season on the Monster Tech 3 bike in front of the American crowd, it's great and add Indianapolis to it. It's kind of ticked all the boxes this weekend. We just got to, you know, not get ahead of ourselves, so it gives us some common edge for tomorrow but got to kind of live the moment right now. You know, it kind of took the pressure off the announcement on Friday and just knowing what's going on and am I'm really wanting to repay the Tech 3 team because they've helped put me in a place to be there and, you know, to be able to get a pole for them and hopefully can end the season good and keep being consistent and progress. But, you know, today we'll just savor the moment right now and go in tomorrow and try to put a hard 45 minutes and see what happens.
MODERATOR: It's been an interesting weekends, I think, for everybody in MotoGP, grip level has been a problem. You've crashed yourself, and the weather conditions also seem to be getting a little bit hotter.
Valentino Rossi was far from happy with his qualifying position at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, his worst position since Valencia 2008. His attempt to improve his qualifying position had been hampered by a crash with just a few minutes left in the session, the Fiat Yamaha rider going down at Turn 6, a corner that has caught out a lot of riders so far this weekend.
Speaking to the Italian press after qualifying, Rossi complained about the surface of the track in that corner, saying "if it hadn't have been for that hole in Turn Six ... We asked for that hole to be filled in two years' ago in the Safety Commission." The crash was Rossi's second of the day, something that hadn't happened since his first season back in 1996, Rossi claimed. The cause, Rossi explained, was the rear suspension being set too hard, making it impossible for Rossi to catch the bike once it started to slide.
Nicky Hayden revealed at the post-qualifying press conference that, because he qualified on the front row for the Indy MotoGP race, the Marlboro Ducati team are allowing him to take a few demonstration laps around the historic Indy Mile dirt track this evening. Despite not having "strapped on the steel shoe" since 2002, Hayden, a former national class dirt-tracker, is looking forward to the experience. There are a few Ducati-based flat track machines currently competing in the AMA series, but it wasn't divulged which one Hayden would ride. Maybe this won't be quite a epic as when Kenny Roberts rode the TZ750 bike last year, but it will be certainly worth watching.
The industrious folks in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office have done part of our job again, collecting quotes from fifteen of the seventeen MotoGP riders for tomorrow's MotoGP race. Even better, they came up with a selection of fascinating statistics from today's qualifying session as well. Here's the official IMS press notes and quotes:
MotoGP QUALIFYING NOTES:
Results of qualifying for the Moto2 class at Indianapolis:
2010 Indianapolis MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result - Stunning Last Five Minutes Sees Surprise Front Row
Results and summary of MotoGP qualifying practice at Indianapolis:
Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding continued to shake up the established order in Moto2 at Indianapolis, topping the timesheets during the second session of free practice. Redding finished ahead of FIMMCO Speed Up's Andrea Iannone and the Thai Honda Bimota of Ratthapark Wilairot. Julian Simon finished the session in 4th aboard the Mapfre Aspar Suter, while championship leader Toni Elias end up 5th fastest. Jason Di Salvo was once again the fastest of the Americans, putting his FTR ahead of Roger Lee Hayden's Moriwaki and Kenny Noyes' Promoharris bike.
Casey Stoner battled back from a crash midway in the second MotoGP practice session to set fast time overall on a already scorching, both literally and figuratively, morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track surface, uneven and slippery even in the best of conditions, made the morning session an exercise in controlled sliding, if you were lucky and crashing if you weren't. Joining Stoner in the kitty litter were Hector Barbera and Valentino Rossi, who has been complaining all weekend about a lack of grip.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa set his fast time after the checkered flag had flown ending the session, followed milliseconds later by Stoner, who took the top spot away from the Spaniard by a mere .058 seconds. The duo displaced Pedrosa's team mate Andre Dovizioso, who had taken the top spot with a bit over 6 minutes left in the session.
Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo had his late flying lap impeded by Gresini Honda's Marco Melandri and had to settle for fourth.
The final rider in the 1:40's, Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden, lanquished in the bottom half of the standings for the majority of the session and vaulted into fifth with eleven seconds left.
Casey Stoner continues to top the timesheets at Indianapolis, but only after a torrid session which saw the Marlboro Ducati rider lose a kneeslider, then crash, before putting in a pair of blistering last laps to set the fastest time. Stoner deposed Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who had been fast all session, while Pedrosa had in turn deposed his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo ended the session in 4th.
Marc Marquez continues to wield control over the 125cc class, beating his Ajo Derbi teammate Sandro Cortese by seven hundredths of a second to lead the second session of free practice for the 125cc class at Indianapolis. The Ajo team led the Bancaja Aspar team, with Nico Terol just over a tenth faster than Bradley Smith. Marquez' main title rival Pol Espargaro ended the session in 6th, nearly nine tenths off Marquez' time.