After their differing fortunes last time out in Brno, MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi and runner-up Jorge Lorenzo will arrive in Indianapolis this week for the second American round of the year, at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Fiat Yamaha pair are separated by 50 points but with six rounds remaining the title is far from decided and it promises to be another exciting weekend for the Italian and the Spaniard.
Rossi took a commanding victory last time out, his fifth of the season and also his 160th career podium, which means he now has the most podiums in the history of the sport. The Italian made a victorious debut at Indianapolis last year, adapting to the track immediately and taking a brilliant win in the rain-wracked race, which was stopped eight laps early as the tail end of Hurricane Ike battered the track. Rossi admits to loving racing in the States and having missed out on a win in Laguna this year the 30-year-old would like to make up for it this week. On Saturday night he will make a special appearance at the Indy Mile, the world-famous dirt-track event that takes place just a few miles away in this motor racing Mecca.
Indianapolis last year was an important moment too for Lorenzo as the then-rookie took his first ever podium in the wet, keeping his head to bring his M1 home in third place amidst incredibly difficult conditions. After two races on the bounce with zero points the championship runner-up is desperate to turn his fortunes around this weekend and is counting on the work done during the Brno test to put him in the best possible shape from the start this time.
With 257,000 permanent seats the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world and fills to capacity for its crown jewels, the Indy 500 and Allstate 400 car races. Originally constructed in 1909 with a 2.5-mile oval, an exciting 16-turn motorcycle road circuit, which includes part of the historic oval, was purpose-built last year for MotoGP. Last year’s appalling weather aside, average temperatures in late August generally range from highs of around 25ºC to lows touching 15ºC and the entire paddock will be hoping for slightly more average conditions this time around.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"2008 in Indy was something special because it was the first time we had been there and it is definitely the most famous racetrack in the world. We didn’t really know what to expect but our bike worked very well and we were fast from the start, in the wet and the dry. Every year is a different story however so we won’t know where we are until we start our work on Friday afternoon. Last year I had a great win but, like everyone, I really hope that was the only hurricane we ever have to race in and that this time the conditions are more ‘normal’! As I said in Brno, it would be stupid for us to relax and consider the championship won, anything can happen and we know that Lorenzo will be very strong this weekend and determined to make up for the last two races. We must keep focused."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"Indy is very special for me because it’s the first track where I got a podium in wet conditions, in my very first year in MotoGP! Last year was strange, maybe we should have finished earlier because Hurricane Ike was pretty strong; this time I hope everything will be a little bit easier. I am feeling confident because I’ve felt good in the last races, riding very fast since the beginning of the weekend, despite what’s happened on Sunday. I am not thinking about the championship any more but I would like to win a race again after more than three months, especially here in Indy when it’s the centenary of the track. It’s a busy two weeks, with Misano straight after, but we’re ready."
Davide Brivio Speaks… (Rossi Team Manager)
"We had a very good test in Brno when we got a lot of important things done, mostly looking forward to next year. Right now we’re in a very good place, leading the championship by fifty points and with our bike working very well, but as Valentino says we can’t relax because our rivals are very strong. We all love to race in America and we always have great support from our American friends at Yamaha, so everyone will be arriving in high spirits and feeling very motivated. Last year our bike was good there so we hope for the same this time, but without the hurricane!"
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Lorenzo Team Manager)
"In 2008 Jorge did a great race in the wet at Indy and it was an important moment for him. This time though we hope for better weather! Everyone in the team loves racing in America and so we’re all looking forward to getting there, we had great fun last year. After the last two races our sole target again is to do the best we can and fight for the top positions, we want a good result to help us forget Brno and set us up for the final stage of the championship."
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 102 (81 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 221 (161 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 57 (44 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 8 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 24 (3 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 122 (28 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 33 (7 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Indianapolis: Record Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’49.668
Indianapolis: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’40.776
Grand Prix Results: Indianapolis 2008
1. V. Rossi (Yamaha)
2. N. Hayden (Honda)
3. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha)