August 7th, 2015
Danny Kent's reign of terror continues in Moto3, the British rider dominating for most of the first session of free practice. Kent took the lead early, relinquished it briefly as a gaggle of KTMs took over at the top, then went back out and put nearly six tenths of a second over the opposition at the Indianapolis circuit. Unfortunately for Kent, he crashed on the next lap, walking away unhurt. No one could match his pace, though.
Kent's Leopard Racing teammate Efren Vazquez ended the session in 2nd, ending ahead of Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM, the Portuguese rider now fully recovered from the surgery to fix the left hand he injured at the Sachsenring. Niccolo Antonelli took 4th spot, ahead of Enea Bastianini.
Kent was not the only rider to have crashed during FP1. After heavy rain yesterday, the track was still very green, catching several riders out. Kent crashed towards the end of the session, as did Romano Fenati. Both Fenati and Kent were unhurt, but Jorge Navarro, who fell earlier in the session, fared less well, being badly shaken in his crash.
2015 Indianapolis MotoGP Thursday Notes: Improved Hondas, Favored Yamahas, And The Silly Season That Wasn't
The summer break ended fittingly, in a downpour. Rain engulfed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the riders gathered for the start of the second half of the season, but it failed to dampen their spirits. Most of them were raring to go, having had three weekends away from racing. The only exceptions were the men who raced the Suzuka 8 Hour race, Pol Espargaro telling reporters he was 'a little tired' after missing out on some much needed downtime. As for the rest? "Looking forward to getting back to riding," was how Cal Crutchlow summed up the general feeling in the paddock. Fortunately for all concerned, Thursday's rain is likely to be the last for a few days. The MotoGP weekend should take place under clear skies and with good weather.
Perhaps most eager of all was Marc Márquez. He would have been happy to have skipped the summer break altogether, it coming just as he and his team had made a big step forward with the Honda RC213V. After struggling, then crashing out two races in a row, Márquez finished second at Assen, then dominated at the Sachsenring, and felt he was finding his feet. The most important thing, he told the press conference, was that he was enjoying riding the bike again, something which he hadn't done for a long while. "I didn't have this from Valencia and Sepang in the preseason," Márquez said.
The reigning world champion is currently undefeated in the USA on a MotoGP bike. Since his debut, he has won three times at Austin and twice at Indianapolis. Why does he do so well here? "They are left hand tracks, which helps me, because I train a lot on dirt track." Márquez spends a lot of his time racing on dirt ovals at his home near Cervera, and at some of the other dirt tracks which are sprouting like mushrooms across northern Spain. He expressed his fondness for the layout of Indianapolis too, calling it 'different', and rather unique among racetracks. It lost some of that uniqueness when it was changed last year, Márquez preferring the old layout. Perhaps his view is colored by the fact that the change made the track a little more flowing, making it better for the Yamahas.
Suzuki today issued a press release featuring video interviews with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, where they discuss the first half of their seasons. The videos appear below:
ESPARGARO & VINALES VIDEO INTERVIEWS ONLINE
Team Suzuki Press Office – August 6.
Suzuki Motor Corporation has today released two new videos of Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro filmed at the team’s recent Misano test in Italy.
In the videos, the two young Spaniards talk about their season so far, their move to the Suzuki MotoGP Factory team, development of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-RR and their ambitions and hopes for the second-half of the 2015 MotoGP™ Championship season that continues this weekend at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in America.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR's Aleix Espargaro reflects his MotoGP season so far aboard the Suzuki GSX-RR following the team’s test at Misano in Italy in mid-July.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR's Maverick Viñales talks about his MotoGP season so far aboard the Suzuki GSX-RR following the team’s test at Misano in Italy in mid-July.
Press release previews of Indianapolis from the teams, Bridgestone, the circuit and more:
Press release previews from the teams ahead of this weekend's races at Indianapolis:
The Forward Racing team have found a temporary lifeline, and will be back in action at Brno. The MotoGP team of Loris Baz and replacement rider Claudio Corti, and Moto2 men Lorenzo Baldassarri and Simone Corsi will be racing in the Czech Republic, as the team have found the finances for that race at least.
Beyond Brno, however, the question marks remain. The press release issued only mentions Brno, and not the races beyond that. However, racing at Brno will buy current team boss Marco Curioni more time to go looking for more sponsors to try to fund the remainder of the season. Racing at Brno will also show the team's commitment to both IRTA and Dorna about their willingness to try to find a solution, and perhaps buy them more breathing space.
Depending on who you ask, MotoGP's summer break is either too short, or too long. For the fans, three full weekends without MotoGP is a painfully long time, though both World Superbikes and BSB have done a pretty good job of making MotoGP's absence much more bearable. For the teams, riders and staff, the four weeks between the Sachsenring and Indianapolis pass in an instant, seeming way too short to qualify as a break.
In between PR appearances and negotiations for 2016, riders are lucky to grab five days R&R before getting back to training for the remainder of the season. Team staff, on the other hand, spend their time catching up with all of the stuff they didn't get done in the first half of the season, and trying to get a head start on the second half. What were supposed to be 23 days away from it all get eaten up by a myriad of minor tasks that had been neglected, and before they know it, they are on a plane again and heading for the next race. Not that they mind: for 99% of the people involved in MotoGP, they are driven by a passion for racing, and being at a race track is their idea of heaven. That is why they are paid so poorly, and what makes the paddock such an inspirational place to be.
Indianapolis is a pretty good place to get back to racing, too. Downtown has a real motorcycle buzz, with bike-related activities going on throughout the weekend. Indianapolis Motor Speedway remains one of the most special motorsports facilities in the world, drenched in legend and racing history. Getting in and out of the circuit is a breeze, in contrast with other races, meaning you don't have to get up at insane o'clock if you want to get to the track in time for the start of morning warm up.
It has its downsides too: in a facility is gargantuan as IMS, the crowd of 60,000 or so MotoGP fans just rattle around the place. The layout of the track, housed in the circuit's infield, is limited by the exigencies of its location. The changes made for 2014 were a major improvement on the previous road course, making it a lot more flowing than it was, but it remains flat, with corners that have been designed rather than evolved. This year, it also lost the link with the Indy Mile, at the Indiana State Fairground, the legendary flat track race being held a month earlier.
With just days to go until MotoGP hits the second half of the season, now is a good time to start asking the question who is in the hot seat for the 2015 MotoGP championship. Valentino Rossi leads the title chase by 13 points, but his lead is due more to his terrifying consistency than racking up win after win. Jorge Lorenzo had a seemingly invincible run from Jerez to Barcelona, but has also finished well off the podium. Andrea Iannone has been brilliantly consistent, but has not looked capable of winning, which is a prerequisite for a MotoGP title. Marc Márquez struggled in the first part of the season, but a new swing arm and a return to the 2014 chassis has taken the edge off the worst characteristics of the RC213V. Dani Pedrosa, meanwhile, missed too much of the first part of the season to be a factor.
Will Valentino Rossi pull off his his eighth MotoGP title, and his tenth title overall? Will Jorge Lorenzo become the first Spaniard to win three MotoGP titles? Or will Marc Márquez pull a rabbit out of the hat and take his third championship in a row? Let us run through the options and weigh the probabilities.
With the first two races today being exciting ones, the third race didn't need to be exciting for this year to be better than last year. But it was.
Kenan Sofuoglu leads the title chase by twenty points from Jules Cluzel going into this fourteen lap race.
The track was cooler than expected as the overcast weather held the sun off. Jonathan Rea, Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam chose a different front tyre to the rest of the grid. Last year, this track had events that determined the outcome of the championship and, with Rea able to leave this weekend crowned champion, this year seemed to be no different.
Press releases from the teams and series organizers after qualifying at Sepang:
Aprilia today issued the following press release, confirming that Stefan Bradl will race for the Gresini Aprilia team for the rest of the 2015 season, replacing Marco Melandri.
STEFAN BRADL TO RIDE AN APRILIA RS-GP ALONGSIDE ALVARO BAUTISTA
Noale, 1 August 2015 - Twenty-five year old German rider Stefan Bradl, 2011 Moto2 World Champion, will take part in the remaining nine 2015 MotoGP World Championship races astride the second Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia RS-GP alongside Alvaro Bautista.
Bradl will make his first appearance on the Aprilia RS-GP at the Indianapolis Grand Prix scheduled from 7 to 9 August.