Anthony West tops opening day at Indy
The MotoGP World Championship’s first day of action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw attention turning away from the impressive new circuit and towards the skies, as torrential rain hit the American track during the 800cc action at The Brickyard.
After a sunny and humid day yesterday, an area of low pressure brought non-stop rain today, which grew heavier throughout the afternoon. These were less than ideal conditions for the riders to begin getting to know the track, which uses part of the main straight before winding its way around inside the famous Oval.
Whilst the conditions were to few riders´ tastes as they looked to set up their bikes from scratch, wet weather star Anthony West was able to settle in nicely onboard the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. The Australian star is known for his adaptation to new tracks and ability to perform amidst a deluge, and didn’t disappoint Stateside with a 1´53.034 lap of the IMS circuit in the opening practice session. He was also the fastest in the second run under even heavier rain, albeit with a slower time.
The Kawasaki rider was out to impress as he looks for a ride for 2009, and at the very least put himself on the highlight reel for the day with a spectacular save from the brink of a huge highside in Free Practice 2. With the meteorological picture unlikely to change this weekend, West could be one of the principal beneficiaries.
With no rider able to improve on their times in the second session, Alex de Angelis retained his second place on the combined standings list, a tenth of a second behind West. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider pushed hard on his afternoon run, going off-track and onto the grass onboard his satellite RC212V.
Reigning World Champion Casey Stoner did not seem too shaken up from a morning crash when he continued his Indianapolis adaptation process, and he remains the rider with the third fastest time from Friday. Andrea Dovizioso was the highest placing Michelin rider with the French fabricant’s range of wet rubber, ahead of Bridgestone-shod Kawasaki and Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen.
Jorge Lorenzo, the home duo of Nicky Hayden &Ben Spies, plus form-rider Toni Elias, completed the top ten.
Series leader Valentino Rossi looked more at home in the second session, although he did take a trip off-track to the banked first oval corner -not featured in the MotoGP layout- during the run.
The only rider who improved upon their morning times was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, getting acclimatized to new Bridgestone tires, a new engine and the all-new circuit.
The final placing American was Colin Edwards in fifteenth, but rather than `The Texas Tornado´, the main focus of the day was the predicted arrival of Hurricane Ike, which could hit Indiana over the course of the weekend.
COMBINED FREE PRACTICE TIMES
1. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing1'53.034
2. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini1'53.151
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro1'53.190
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JiR Team Scot MotoGP1'53.704
5. John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing1'53.715
6. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki1'53.771
7. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team1'53.850
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda1'53.931
9. Ben Spies (USA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP1'54.297
10. Toni Elias (SPA) Alice Team1'54.616
11. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team1'54.795
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP1'55.072
13. Shinya Nakano (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini1'55.074
14. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro1'55.292
15. Colin Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha1'55.731
16. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice Team1'56.125
17. James Toseland (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha1'56.271
18. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP1'56.345
19. Dani Pedrosa (SP) Repsol Honda 1'56.782