After 11 rounds in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, the stories have mainly centered around one rider – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner.
The Australian has 10 podiums, including six wins. The only trouble Stoner really had this year was his DNF at Jerez after a confrontational crash with the man who replaced him on the Ducati, Valentino Rossi.
Heading into Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, Round 12 of 18, Stoner leads the MotoGP Championship with 218 points.
In second a further 32 points back is the reigning MotoGP Champion, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. In third with 163 points is Stoner’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
This weekend’s second round in the USA has the 17-rider grid excited mostly due to the new pavement at Turns 5 through 16. Here’s what the riders are saying leading up to Indy MotoGP:
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “In the past seasons the track at Indy has been extremely bumpy and also slightly dangerous so I’m looking forward to going there and riding the new surface. It will also be nice to ride the Honda there, as it took a lot of work to get the set up right on the Ducati at such a peculiar circuit.
“I’ve only ridden the circuit in 2008 and 2010 and we were pretty competitive there last year, but then I lost the front in the race, so it will be good to get there, test the new surface and get to work on the set up on my RC212V.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m heading to Indianapolis and really looking forward to the race. Last year we had a good race there and I hope I can repeat this again. The asphalt has changed, so we will have to adapt to the new surface, check how the tyres are working there and look for the best race setup possible.
“Physically I’m improving little by little; already in Brno I felt better than in the past months, so I hope I can be in good shape for the race.
“Obviously the last race result was very disappointing for me and my team after such a good weekend, but we take the positive things from it and move forward.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “We arrive in Indy after a podium finish in Brno and I hope we can continue this momentum. The Indianapolis racetrack is a typical American venue with great facilities and huge grandstands, the track is not particularly interesting but all in all it’s a very nice event.
“This year the track has been resurfaced in some parts so for sure it will be much more fun to ride as in the past it was very bumpy and there were different kind of asphalts.
Last year in the practice and qualifying sessions we were fast but we struggled in the race, finishing 5th. I’m confident we can be competitive again this year, we are very motivated and focused.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “Indy is a track I really enjoy. I treasure wonderful moments like the podiums in 2008 and 2010, and my victory in 2009 wearing Captain America’s helmet. I am now in good shape and am ready to regain the ground we lost in Brno, where a mistake put a distance between Casey and I. I hope the good energy I feel in this track will still help us to fight for the title. I am really looking forward to going back to the US and riding my M1.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “I’m really hoping to be completely fit for this weekend. I’ve still got some numbness in the arm but it is better than it was at Brno. We’ve been working hard to get it right and we will of course give it 100% as always. I’ve been looking forward to this race all year; it was pretty crazy last year as a rookie to take pole and a second in the race. We’re going to put on a good show for all the home fans and see what we can do.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “Indy is a difficult circuit, and although it’s not exactly one of my favorites, we’ll see how we perform there with the Ducati. They resurfaced part of the track, so the conditions should certainly be better from that point of view.
“We made a little progress with the GP11.1′s setup during the Brno GP, and we’ll see if we can confirm them at this next race. Anyway, racing in America is always nice for me, as I enjoy both the atmosphere and the fans, who are always very passionate. On the other hand, I’m very sorry that we’ll be missing someone who undoubtedly followed our sport, though not at the track: Claudio Castiglioni was very passionate and he did a lot for the motorcycle world, and for me in particular when he helped me get started in racing in Sport Production 125 when I was 14.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “We’re going to Indy, and we’ll see what the new track surface does. I’ve ridden it, and the bumps are definitely gone, although I’d say it will take some time on Friday to clean it up and get some rubber down.
“I’m looking forward to this event. I always enjoy racing at home in front of friends and family, but I need to go there and focus on my job. I want to try to do a good result while also having fun and enjoying the weekend. The team has worked really hard to get me the opportunity to ride this new bike, and now it’s up to me to try and pay them back with a good result.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “Racing at home in America for the second time in a few weeks is awesome and I’m really looking forward to this weekend. The build-up to the Indianapolis race is always pretty special because you’ve got the mystique and the history of the place and I really like that part of it.
“The people at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have done a fantastic job to make MotoGP a success and hopefully the fans will get to see an exciting show this weekend. The track isn’t too technical or demanding but I’m looking forward to riding on the new pavement on the infield.
“We all know it was pretty bumpy in parts but they’ve taken our feedback on board and done something to improve it, which is brilliant. I’m on a consistent run of results at the moment and hopefully that will continue this we ekend. I’d like to be a further up the order and pushing inside the top six a little more, but the guys in front of me every week are all on factory bikes, so I think all of us inside the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team are giving the maximum to do the best job we can.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “I am really looking forward to going to Indy because I’ve heard so much about what a fantastic facility the Motor Speedway is. But without any previous experience of riding there, I’m anticipating another difficult challenge.
“It is one I am relishing though because I’m determined to end this difficult period in the Championship. I haven’t scored enough points in the last few races, so I’m looking forward to learning Indy but also getting a good result there too. The Yamaha is a good bike, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is brilliant, and I believe in my own ability, so we’ve got to put a ll the ingredients together to deliver the performances we know we are capable of.
“The test after the Brno race was really beneficial because we could work on the bike a lot and I could focus on adapting my style a lot more. We’ve got some more ideas to help us in the future, so hopefully a good result this weekend will help set me up for a strong finish to the season.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “A weight was lifted off my shoulders at Brno with my first ever podium in MotoGP and my 30th podium in all categories. It was a huge source of satisfaction because we have been chasing it since the opening race of the season and didn’t quite manage it for various reasons. We needed it and I am happy for myself, the team, Honda and everybody who has believed in me.
“That kind of cloud is no longer hanging over us and hopefully that will make everything easier in the second half of the season. I am feeling strong and determined and I travel to America in the right mood to continue this positive progress. Indianapolis is a circuit I like overall although I do tend to struggle a little compared to the other smaller riders because of the first gear final corner that leads onto a really long straight.
“This is a problem for us but we will do our best to work it out and try to ensure it hinders us as little as possible. I took the win at Indianapolis in 250 in 2009 and I was on pole in 2008 when the race was cancelled because of the hurricane. The team and I are highly motivated and hope to continue in the same way we found in Brno.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “Ninth place at Brno wasn’t an amazing result but it was positive for me because I recovered my physical condition and my confidence with the bike. After the Czech Republic Grand Prix I am feeling more motivated and determined for the second half of the season.
“I needed to rediscover my confidence in myself and in the RC212V, and I think Brno was a positive weekend in that respect. Now I go to Indianapolis in a different mood. I finished second here behind Marco Simoncelli in the 250cc race a couple of years ago and returned to action here last year after missing six races through injury. It wasn’t an easy weekend for me but I managed to finish the race and I enjoyed the track so I am very much looking forward to a stronger showing this weekend.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “We have certainly made some big steps with the GSV-R over the last few races, but we still need to work on things at Indianapolis. We need find out what the true potential of the bike is and I need to improve my qualifying session performance.
“It is difficult to see if we can compete with the guys at the front if I am starting at the back of the grid and I have to use so much time and energy to get up to them. These are things that we are determined to do and if we are successful in them then who knows what the bike and the team are capable of producing.
“I finished eighth at Indianapolis last year and I know we can do better than that now with the package we have. I will be pushing right from the start and trying to make all the hard work we’ve done in recent races give us a good end result in America.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “It is not easy to face a contest after another in these physical conditions.
“I did therapy on the shoulder for a week, conditions are better compared to Brno, but are not yet in top form. During the day of testing in the Czech Republic we have got to try different things, we’ll see them in practice in Indianapolis, a circuit which I like. I hope it rains, it will be a little easier to work.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I needed a little rest after the Grand Prix in Brno. Now that I’m a bit better I want to try to get a good result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My goal is to finish the season in the best way, so it would not hurt to finish the race in the top ten. The bike has improved, I have all it takes to get a good result even if that Indy circuit is not one of my favorites.”