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Previewing The Indy U.S. Grand Prix

MotoGP
Monday, September 08, 2008

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Ben Spies testing at Indy earlier in the year
The following is from Yamaha...


The MotoGP World Championship heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in its history this weekend, fittingly with the equal most successful rider of all-time leading the groundbreaking pilgrimage to one of motorsport’s most iconic venues.

Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi leveled Giacomo Agostini’s record of premier-class wins with his 68th career success at Misano, extending his championship advantage over Casey Stoner to 75 points, whilst his rookie team-mate Jorge Lorenzo made it a team one-two.

It means that Rossi needs to outscore Stoner by a single point at Indy to set up his first title match-point in the following round at Motegi, Japan. The legendary American circuit, which plays host to two of the largest-attended sporting events in the world - the Indy 500 and Allstate 400 car races - now welcomes the two-wheeled phenomena of Rossi-mania and the ‘Lorenshow’, with the pair keen to make their mark with a dazzling performance in front of the fanatical east-coast crowd.

Much will hinge on the adaptability of bikes and especially tires at a circuit the engineers have no previous data for. A crucial factor will be track temperature, although it looks certain to be much cooler than recent events at Laguna Seca, Brno and in particular Misano, where the late European summer sunshine brought ambient temperatures of 35§C, heating the asphalt to 48§C. At Indianapolis average temperatures in September range from highs of around 25§C to lows touching 13§C.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with 257,000 permanent seats. Originally constructed in 1909 with a 2.5-mile oval, an exciting 16-turn motorcycle road circuit, which includes part of the historic oval, has been purpose-built for this weekend's event. Action will get underway an hour earlier than usual, with the first practice session scheduled for 9.30am on Friday and running until 11am, allowing the riders an extra half hour to get to know the track. Sunday’s race is also scheduled for later than usual, with the red lights set to go out at 3pm.

Valentino Rossi

“A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE”

“I am still on a high from Misano, which was an amazing day, but now we are facing a different challenge. It’s very exciting to be going to Indianapolis, such a famous and historical place for motorsport, but it’s obvious from reports that it’s going to be quite a difficult race for everyone. Of course we have no data but we’re also expecting the surface to be quite tricky for the tires. I hope the track is safe, we know the walls are quite close in some places but hopefully it won’t be a problem. We will find out on Friday! It’s fun to be going to a new place in America and I hope there will be a lot of fans, even if it’s not quite as many as at the Indy 500!”

Jorge Lorenzo

“A FAMOUS PLACE!”

“Returning to the United States is really exciting for me, not for the fact we’re going back there but because we’re racing at a completely new circuit. Indianapolis is a historic place, which we have all heard people talking about at one time or another. It’s a track I’ve seen hundreds of times in movies and on the television. As far as I’m concerned, I just want to keep in a good run of form and stay at the level we found at San Marino, where everything worked as we’d hoped once again. The whole team and myself have to focus throughout all four sessions because they will be crucial to prepare for the race. There are five rounds until the end of the world championship and we have to keep fighting to meet our objectives. This is the first of a difficult run of races outside Europe.”

The following is from Kawasaki...

Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West head to round 14 of the MotoGP Championship, which is being held at the Indianapolis circuit for the very first time, in optimistic mood. The Kawasaki pair are looking to score solid results at the 4.216km American circuit, at which none of the MotoGP regulars have had any previous track experience.

West, who has recently struggled with front-end issues aboard his Kawasaki race machine is looking to gain a strong result at this new-to-MotoGP circuit. The 27-year-old Australian, who scored a career best Grand Prix finish with a fifth place at Brno, has been working closely with his crew to improve the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR to give him more confidence into the turns. Although the recent post-race test at Misano didn't completely abolish the problem, he believes that steps forward have been made and he can continue his progression this weekend.

Hopkins is looking forward to racing his Ninja ZX-RR at his home event this weekend, especially after missing out on the Laguna Seca round through injury. The 25-year-old Anglo-American's progress has been hampered recently due to injury, but the Kawasaki pilot is hoping to make amends in front of a home crowd, especially after making further improvements to his race machine at the Misano post-race test.

The Indianapolis circuit is made up of an oval, famously used for the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard races, along with a recently altered infield track. It's a new challenge for all of the competitors in the premier class, as none of them have raced at this circuit previously. One man who does know his way around the circuit, after testing there earlier this year, is Kawasaki's test and development rider, Olivier Jacque.

"The Indianapolis circuit is quite unusual and very different from the tracks that the MotoGP racers compete at in Europe," explains Jacque. "The circuit uses the straights from the famous oval, which lead onto an infield racetrack. The two main areas of concern are the difference in grip levels between these two sections, and the joins in the tarmac because they are quite slippery.

"The test we did earlier this year was quite successful for us and the Ninja ZX-RR was working well, particularly in the tight turns and the quick changes of direction. A good tire choice will be an essential factor during the race as the second half of the track is very grippy and the machine is at maximum lean angle for a long period of time," concluded the Frenchman.

Anthony West

Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13

"Indianapolis is a new challenge for everyone as no-one knows the track. I'm hoping this will give us a little bit of an advantage, as it should be more of an even playing field. At Misano we struggled with the front-end of the bike, and although we managed to make some improvements in the post-race test, there is still work to do. I stayed in Italy following the event where I've been doing a lot of cycling and training ready for this weekend, so I'm feeling relaxed and ready for the challenge. We'll go and try to get as many laps under our belt on Friday to put us in the best possible position for the race, and it will be a case of trying to capture as much data as we can, then going from there. I'm looking forward to it and I hope we can get a strong result."

John Hopkins

Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #21

"I'm really excited about Indianapolis as it's my second home round and unfortunately I missed Laguna Seca because I was injured. Not only that, but I grew up around the racing world, and although two-wheeled motorsport is my favorite, the family would all get together to watch races like the Brickyard and the Indianapolis 500 at this track. It's a very special feeling to be racing in MotoGP there, and although I'm not familiar with the circuit, I'm incredibly motivated for this event. I've been studying the track layout and Olivier tested the Ninja ZX-RR earlier this year, so we have a little bit of feedback from that, but being in front of my home fans at such an incredible place is going to be fantastic - I just can't wait to get out there."

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is making its second transatlantic trip of the season as it travels to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix in America.

Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen head to the mid-west of America following a run of impressive results that has included four consecutive top-five finishes including three successive podiums between the pair. The two regular stars of the Rizla Suzuki team will be joined this weekend by reigning American Superbike Champion Ben Spies for his second wild-card ride of the season – his third MotoGP race overall after deputizing for Capirossi at Donington in June. Spies is one of the few riders that has ridden at the new circuit after being involved in a two-day tire test for the Rizla Suzuki team in July.

The Indianapolis Grand Prix is a new event on the MotoGP calendar and when the bikes take to the track on Sunday 14th September it will be the first time that motorcycles have raced at the historic ‘Brickyard’ since 1909! The circuit is known as the Brickyard due to over three million paving bricks that used to cover the whole surface, today just less than a meter of these bricks exist at the start line known as the ‘Yard of Bricks’. The 4,216m track is a completely new layout which, although it will use part of the existing circuit, will completely bypass the famous banked turns of the oval that is used for Indy Car racing and NASCAR. With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000 people and temporary infield seating that raises attendance to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting stadium facility in the world - it is so big it features an 18-hole championship golf course inside its grounds - and a huge crowd is expected when MotoGP rolls into town.

The three-pronged Rizla Suzuki attack will be rolling out on to Gasoline Alley to take on the high-speed boulevards of the famous Indianapolis Speedway on Friday 12th September for two free practice sessions. This will be followed by another practice on Saturday morning and then the all-action qualifying session in the afternoon. Sunday’s 28-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (18.00hrs GMT) when all three Rizla racers will be gunning for glory.

Chris Vermeulen:

“This is going to be a really interesting event as nobody has ever raced here and we will all need to learn the track and how it performs with little data available to us before we go there. Ben has done a test there so we have a bit of an idea how the Bridgestone tires will perform, but it will still be a bit of a gamble when we choose our allocation for the weekend on Thursday. I am looking forward to it though as I used to watch the Indy 500 on TV and now it will be great to race a MotoGP bike at such a famous venue, I just hope we can put on a good show to convert some the American car fans into bike fans!”

Loris Capirossi:

“I am really excited about going to Indianapolis. The track looks great and it will be a new challenge for us. The bike is working well with the new chassis and although we didn’t get it quite right in Misano it seemed to improve lap-by-lap in the race so that should be good for when we start setting it up for this weekend’s race. “

Ben Spies:

“I’m really looking forward to racing a MotoGP bike again on American soil and I’ve been lucky enough to have done some laps on the Indy circuit so I am pretty comfortable with it. I am looking for a pretty good weekend and it looks like the Suzuki has been working well over the last few races, so that should help us to be competitive. It should be fun and we’ll try our best to get a good result for all the American fans that will be turning up to watch us!”

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