Rossi On The Move As The Brickyard Looms
Round 11 - Indianapolis 17-19 August 2012
Circuit Length:4.216 Km
Laps:Moto3 - 23 laps
Moto2 - 26 laps
MotoGP - 28 laps
Lap Records:125cc - Nicolas TEROL, Aprilia (2011) 1:48.380 = 140.040km/h
Moto2 - Andrea IANNONE, Suter (2011) 1:44.329 = 145.478km/h
MotoGP - Casey STONER, Honda (2011) 1:39.807 = 152.069km/h
2011 - Nicolas TEROL, Aprilia
2010 - Nicolas TEROL, Aprilia
2009 - Pol ESPARGARO, Derbi
2008 - Nicolas TEROL, Aprilia
2011 - Marc MARQUEZ, Suter
2010 - Toni ELIAS, Moriwaki
2009 - Marco SIMONCELLI, Gilera
2008 - no race
2011 - Casey STONER, Honda
2010 - Dani PEDROSA, Honda
2009 - Jorge LORENZO, Yamaha
2008 - Valentino ROSSI, Yamaha
Rossi on the move as the brickyard looms
It’s been three weeks since we last saw MotoGP in action; the big mover over the summer break has been Valentino Rossi. In our last preview we said ‘Bye Bye’ to Yamaha from Ben Spies; now it’s ‘Hello Again’ as Rossi rejoins the team he left in 2010. Vale is 33 now and time was running out for his personal project at Ducati, where he is enduring a second fruitless year. He has rejoined Yamaha for the next two seasons.
Rossi gets to celebrate his move at a track where he was the first winner – for Yamaha in 2008, albeit in a race shortened by seven laps by appalling weather. His partnership with Yamaha first time around lasted seven seasons and yielded not only 46 Grand Prix wins but four world titles, in 2004-05 and again in 2008-09. Once again he will team up with Jorge Lorenzo, who has already been re-signed for 2013 and 2014.
Another rider heading to the Brickyard with a feel-good factor behind him is Australia’s Casey Stoner. Stoner, in his final World Championship year, left Laguna Seca three weeks ago with a stupendous victory over Lorenzo under his belt and his confidence high. He is now 32 points behind Lorenzo with eight rounds remaining, but just nine points adrift of his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
While the World Champion has been enjoying his customary break in the USA, a country he loves, he is less than lavish with praise for the Brickyard – mainly because the MotoGP event does not hook in to the unique history of this great venue. “I'm not the biggest fan of Indy, mainly because we don't go on the historical track but the infield and in the wrong direction!” says Stoner. “The track is very flat and plain, also very tight. There are a couple of corners that can be fun but the majority are difficult, tight and there isn't any natural flow to the track.”
Not only that, but the circuit is a peculiar mix: it runs anti-clockwise and Turns 1-4 and the section from Turns 7-8 were designed for two-wheeled racing while the rest is made up of the former F1 infield section. There has historically been inconsistency over the track surface. Bridgestone will take asymmetric rear tyres with harder rubber on the left shoulder to cope with the twists and turns.
Just to remind you, Lorenzo has five wins this year and 205 points. He has failed to finish just once, at Assen; in every other race he has been either first or second. Pedrosa, on 182 points, has won just once; on the other hand, Dani – injury-free for once – has scored in every round and only once finished off the podium, in France, where he was fourth. Casey meanwhile has 173 points with four 2012 wins to his credit – but he too has one no-score after that fall at the Sachsenring and two other off-podium finishes.
Rossi’s news raises a few questions, not least about Ben Spies’s future. The 26-year-old American, currently Lorenzo’s partner on the Yamaha factory bikes, scored his first MotoGP podium at the Brickyard in 2010, when he finished second from pole position; he also stood on the podium last year after finishing third so a similar result would be a morale-booster for the American going into the second half of the year. This will be his 48th Grand Prix start.
Another question: what next for Andrea Dovizioso? The sateliite Yamaha rider has had four podium finishes this year, all of them in the last six races in fact, and had high hopes of earning a transition to the full factory bike for 2013. Could Ducati look to replace one Italian with another? Dovi needs to keep doing what he has been doing, making sure Tech 3 teammate Cal Crutchlow – another man linked with the Duke – stays behind him for the rest of the year. There’s 15 points between them in fourth and fifth heading to Indianapolis.
One man not heading for Indianapolis is another Ducati rider. That’s Hector Barbera, still recovering from a double break to his right leg and once again replaced by Toni Elias on the Pramac entry. Elias crashed out disappointingly at Laguna Seca, but in his 2010 Moto2 title-winning year on a Moriwaki Indianapolis was one of the seven races he won. Expect to see Barbera back in time for Brno, however.
Also trying again are Attack Performance, for whom American Steve Rapp failed to qualify at Laguna Seca but will be back with a Kawasaki in Indiana. This time they have been testing at Indianapolis along with Aaron Yates, a 38-year-old veteran recovering from a leg injury in 2010 and labelled as one of the most aggressive riders on the US scene. Like Russell Ingall in V8 Supercars, Yates is nicknamed ‘The Enforcer’. Yates will ride a GP Tech-entered BCL chassis powered by an AMA Superbike-spec Suzuki, the company with whom his US career has always been associated.
One last question, nothing to do with Rossi: can Alvaro Bautista rediscover the form that took the Gresini Honda rider to the pole at Silverstone and almost earned him a podium there? He returns to the States after a warm-up crash and eighth place at Laguna Seca left him with his confidence severely dented. Fausto Gresini, himself a winner of 21 125cc Grands Prix and the World Championship in 1985 and 1987, has the remedy: “At times like this,” he says, “it it important to grit your teeth and do everything possible to turn things around…”
In Moto2, there’s no need for Marc Marquez to turn things around: he’s been turning well enough to win three times already this year and build up a handy 34-point lead over Spanish compatriot Pol Espargaro and Italy’s Andrea Iannone in the title chase. Marquez and another front-runner, Tom Lüthi, both worked during the break, testing at Portimão in Portugal. Marquez won at Indianapolis last year, but it’s Iannone who heads there with his tail in the air after a fine win at Mugello last time out.
Down among the Moto3 brigade, Sandro Cortese has a fragile nine-point lead over Maverick Viñales, who in turn is a comfortable 51 points clear of Luis Salom. With Pol Espargaro and Nico Terol now up in the Moto2 class, no current Moto3 rider has won on a 125 or Moto2 machine at Indianapolis – though last year Viñales and Cortese followed Terol home.