The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an immensely successful motorsports venue, but its very success worked against it on the first day of practice. After complaints last year that the track was too bumpy and the kerbs were raised too much, the infield part of the circuit was completely resurfaced and many of the bumps were removed. The MotoGP riders were almost unanimously impressed by the effort put in by Indy, and the change was universally appreciated as a sign that IMS was keen on keeping MotoGP at the facility for the immediate future.
The praise soon evaporated after the Friday morning session of practice, however. Like all newly-laid tarmac, the track was very dirty, and the Spanish contingent especially were complaining bitterly about the lack of grip. "I never tried asphalt so slippery," Jorge Lorenzo said after FP1, and several riders commented that the track was like riding in the wet. "You can't lean the bike in the corners," Dani Pedrosa added, "And the tires are destroyed."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after practice on Friday at Indianapolis:
It's been an unimaginably tough season for Ducati in 2011. The arrival of Valentino Rossi has served only to prove that the design of the Desmosedici has some fundamental design flaws that only a particular talent can ride around, and the factory Ducatis have spent all this year circulating in mid-pack. Right now, the focus in Bologna has shifted completely towards 2012, with this season being used to gather data to help build next year's bike.
At Indianapolis, both Marlboro Ducati riders confirmed that major changes are on the cards for the Desmosedici for next year, with the current design, now being used by both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi in the GP11.1, likely to see large-scale modifications.
Speaking to reporters, Rossi acknowledged that the new parts which debuted at Brno had helped, finishing the Czech round much closer to Jorge Lorenzo and the front runners than he has been for some time. The change - a modification to the headstock, including inserts and fork bottoms - had given Rossi a little more feel at the front, but it was still not enough. If he was to be able to fight with Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner for wins, he said, a much bigger step would be needed.
With the Japanese round of MotoGP at Motegi now just five weeks away, it is getting close to crunch time for the riders to decide whether they are going to race at the circuit or not. The report on the radiation situation at Motegi commissioned by Dorna has been presented to the riders and the teams, and everyone has had some time to digest the report. Some teams have already made clear that they will be attending the race - the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team made an official announcement at Brno, and Jorge Martinez of the Aspar team said earlier this week that his teams would be attending the race in Japan - but many teams have not yet made a decision.
The problem for the undecided riders centers around the situation at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where continues on bringing the damaged reactors under control and cooling the plant. This issue was not addressed in the report, and with the media reporting both every new earthquake and every incidence of high radioactivity found at or near the plant - though maintaining a deafening silence on the progress being made towards getting the plant under control - fear of the situation is still running high among the riders.
2011 Indianapolis MotoGP Pre-Event Press Conference Transcript - Stoner, Hayden, Spies, Pedrosa And Simoncelli Speak
The incredibly industrious and efficient press office at Indianapolis Motor Speedway provided the following transcript of the pre-event press conference held on Thursday afternoon, featuring Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli:
2011 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP
Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa, Marco Simoncelli
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. It's Round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship; still seven rounds to go. In the press conference today, the World Championship leader, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda. Casey has won six Grand Prixes this season. He has a 32-point lead in the World Championship. He's been on the podium in the last nine Grands Prix, and he's won the last two.
Sitting alongside him to his right is his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Dani's fifth in the World Championship. He's had two wins this season. He was the winner of the race last year after qualifying in fifth place.
The last of the previews from the MotoGP teams: from Pramac Ducati for Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet, and Cardion AB for Karel Abraham:
MotoGP Engine Usage Analysis Prior To Indianapolis: Honda, Yamaha And Suzuki Comfortable, Ducati Faces A Dilemma
As MotoGP heads into the final stretch of the season, with just over a third of the races left to go, it's time to have another look at the engine situation in MotoGP. With each rider now well into their allocation of 6 engines to last the season, the trends are becoming clear. So who is in trouble, who has engines to spare and which manufacturer has done the best job of producing an engine that works. Below is a run down of each factory, subdivided by team and rider.
As expected, Honda's RC212V engine is virtually bulletproof, especially in its factory configuration. The four full-fat factory Hondas on the grid (Marco Simoncelli is also riding a factory Honda RC212V, along with the three Repsol men) have seen 3 motors withdrawn (for an explanation of the terms used, see the legend at the bottom of the page) between them, and all of those engines had around 30 sessions on them and at least 4 races. The satellite spec RC212Vs of Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias have not stood up quite so well, though Elias has also had to share his engine allocation with Ben Bostrom during the US round at Laguna Seca.
On Monday, the industrious press office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway held another one of their telephone conference calls interviewing top American riders, ahead of this weekend's Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. This time, it was the turn of Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards to face a string of questions from the press. Hayden, naturally, was asked about the difference between the Ducati and Japanese bikes, his upcoming switch to the Ducati GP11.1, and about racing at his home MotoGP round. Edwards talked about his guns, his future acting career and what scares him, while also been uncharacteristically coy about his future in racing. Both Edwards and Hayden talked about the dangers involved in racing, especially relevant in light of the death of young super-talent Peter Lenz in a support race last season. Here's what they had to say:
2011 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP TELECONFERENCE
Note: American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference Monday, Aug. 23. Both will join fellow MotoGP stars from around the world in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
MODERATOR: There are two American races, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. But you've made no secret whatsoever that this is your home race, with Indianapolis only being a couple of hours from your home in Owensboro. Talk about your anticipation for this race and how your buildup for getting ready for this event is different than either Laguna or any other race on the MotoGP schedule.
NICKY HAYDEN: This is definitely my home race. Laguna is great, and it's cool to be in America. Indy, I just cross the state line, and I'm there. It's really like racing in my back yard. It's a track I like. I love the atmosphere there. It's the Brickyard. It's got a special mystique about it. A lot of racing has went on over the years there. Looking forward to trying to have a good weekend. It's not exactly been an easy season for us, by any means. But as far as a buildup for this race, it's not like I can really say we're doing a whole lot different than any other weekend because we always to do the maximum. It is nice not to get the passport out and spend a day flying somewhere around the world. Just to jump in the car and head that way is pretty sweet.
Press release previews of the upcoming Red Bull Indianapolis GP from the MotoGP teams:
Bautista ready to take on the ‘Brickyard'
Publish Date: Monday, August 22, 2011
Rizla Suzuki is on its way Stateside for the 12th round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship which will be held at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in America.
Álvaro Bautista will be looking to continue with the huge potential that has been shown by him and the Suzuki GSV-R is recent races. He looked likely to fight for a top-five finish last time out at Brno, before lady-luck robbed him of the opportunity and he crashed. He is in a determined and focused mood to get a good qualifying position on Saturday to give him a better chance of getting away with the quick group come race-day and show what both he and the Rizla Suzuki are capable of.
Ever since Valentino Rossi ended the first Valencia MotoGP test in lowly 15th place on the Ducati Desmosedici, one-and-three-quarter seconds behind fastest man and former teammate Jorge Lorenzo, there have been calls for radical changes to Ducati's MotoGP machine. Those calls have only intensified as the season has progressed, the switch from the GP11 to the GP11.1, the destroked version of Ducati's 2012 MotoGP machine, having brought little improvement until a few key parts were introduced at Brno.
The focus of much of the fans' anger and the paddock's scepticism has been Ducati's monocoque carbon fiber chassis. Ducati's radically different design has been pinpointed as the obvious culprit for the problems with the Desmosedici, with critics pointing to the success the Japanese factories have had with an aluminium twin spar chassis, as exemplified by Yamaha's Deltabox concept. If Ducati had an aluminium twin spar frame, the argument goes, they would at least be confronting the Japanese on equal footing.
Crucially, the criticism has come not just from outside of Ducati, but both Valentino Rossi and his long-time crew chief Jeremy Burgess as well. Both Rossi and his crew chief have called for Ducati to run a parallel project to design an aluminium chassis to test whether such a chassis would bring an improvement. By running two different projects in parallel, the argument runs, the pace of development of the Desmosedici could greatly increased as the data from the two projects is analyzed.
Shortly after lunchtime at the MotoGP test at Brno, journalists were given an opportunity to talk to Filippo Preziosi, Director General of Ducati Corse and the engineering genius behind Ducati's MotoGP project. Naturally, the question of a traditional twin spar chassis came up, as well as what Ducati was testing on Monday, both questions that Preziosi deflected rather gracefully. But he also talked about the role of the Bridgestone tires in development, and why he would dearly love to be able to race a twin in MotoGP.
A transcript of the press conference follows, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jensen Beeler of Asphalt & Rubber, who transcribed it for us:
Q:What were you testing?
The test of today was based on understanding what are the main directions for the future, for the mid-term and long-term future. So we tested very different setups in order to check the preferred weight distribution, center of gravity, stuff like that for Vale. For the mid-term. So, in order to give the design people the targets for the new bikes.
Q:When you say mid-term, how far out is that?
Q:Are you testing these changes with the existing components, or are there any new parts on the bike?
We'd been waiting for it for a long time - longer than we had initially hoped for, after the planned 1000cc test at Mugello morphed into an 800cc test, the Brno test taking its place - but finally, we got to see the 2012 MotoGP bikes out on track, in public and undisguised. Honda and Yamaha pitted their latest creations against one another in full view of the public, and the results were not quite as expected beforehand.
That a Honda RC213V - that's twenty-one three, not two thirteen, for the superstitious among you - should be fastest at the test was expected, Casey Stoner posting a time of 1'56.168 in the final hour before the test finished. Stoner had already had two days of testing on the 2012 bike, and the times being bandied about the paddock - about as reliable as any gossip from inside a small and deeply political community, i.e. not at all - was that Stoner had been two seconds faster than the 800s at the track earlier in the year, though the conditions for the 1000cc test were much more favorable.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the test of the 1000cc and 800cc MotoGP bikes at Brno:
2011 Brno MotoGP Sunday Post-Race Round Up: If We Didn't See The Future Today, We'll See It Tomorrow
Race day turned up plenty of surprises at Brno, some good, some bad, and some, well, just surprising. The three races turned up a tense duel, a full-on fairing-banging barnstormer and, well, a MotoGP race with a surprise podium, and proved that the layout of the Brno circuit is one of the very best in the world.
The 125cc race saw Sandro Cortese win from Johann Zarco, but more importantly, it saw Zarco claw back a whole host of points from Nico Terol after the Bankia Aspar rider was forced out of the race with a mechanical problem. Zarco would once again be denied victory, coming home 2nd to Sandro Cortese, but Zarco's championship prospects improved drastically, cutting Terol's lead from 32 to just 12 points, and throwing the title race open again.
In the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl is still firmly in control of the championship, but he too is starting to leak points to Marc Marquez. At Brno, Bradl limited the damage to just 4 points, and still leads by a very generous 43-point margin, but with Marquez on a roll, a single DNF by Bradl would blow the championship open again.