Pre-race quotes from selected MotoGP riders for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 28-30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (listed by 2008 podium finishers, then alphabetical):
VALENTINO ROSSI (No. 46 Fiat Yamaha Team, Italy, six-time MotoGP World Champion, 2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner): "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 (Jorge) Lorenzo will be very strong this weekend and determined to make up for the last two races. We must keep focused."
NICKY HAYDEN (No. 69 Ducati Team, Owensboro, Ky., 2006 MotoGP World Champion, second in 2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP): "Indianapolis is probably the race I look forward to most. It’s just three hours from my house, and MotoGP now is becoming very popular. Last year it was a great weekend for me, the crowd was great, and Indy did a great job in organizing their first race and made us proud of it. I would love to have another good weekend like that one. So far we have had a tough season, and I would like to go there in a more confident mood. But it is what it is, and for sure we’ll go there and just do the absolute maximum. I like the track itself even though it’s quite flat. The most challenging thing is that it has different kinds of asphalt on different parts of the track, so it will be a challenge to find out where there is grip, where not, and to find the best setup. Hopefully we won’t have another hurricane. The weather should be fine, so we will see how it goes. Last but not least, at Indy I will wear a special helmet, but this time it really is "special." It will carry the "Make-A-Wish" logo and other special designs, and after the race we will auction it off. All the money will go toward the (Make-A-Wish) Foundation, which helps kids’ dreams come true. There will be pictures up on my Web site to see it at nickyhayden.com. I have worked with this charity for five years now, and it always feels good to help out such a solid cause. And yes, I have already made my wish for the weekend."
JORGE LORENZO (No. 99 Fiat Yamaha Team, Spain, third in 2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP): "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 (crashing out of lead in last two races). I am not thinking about the championship anymore, 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 (San Marino GP) straight after, but we’re ready."
NICCOLO CANEPA (No. 88 Pramac Racing Ducati, Italy): "It is for me a true pleasure to come back on this track where last year I spent two days of testing. It is a really nice circuit, fast and technical, where there are some points where you can overtake. Last year I made it to be the fastest against much more experienced riders, and I hope my results are competitive also in this occasion. During the Brno test, we found some really interesting solutions, and they should give us some help for this race, which is so important for my season and my future."
LORIS CAPIROSSI (No. 65 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, Italy): "Last year at Indianapolis was the worst conditions I have ever raced in, and I hope we don’t have that to contend with again. I didn’t really get on the pace there last year, and I was very disappointed about that and will be looking to put that right this year. We had an encouraging performance at Brno and also discovered a few things during the test on Monday that will improve things for the rest of the season. I am going to America in a very positive frame of mind and determined to fight for everything we can for the rest of the year."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (No. 4 Repsol Honda Team, Italy): "This is the second time that we race at Indianapolis, and I have to say that last year I immediately found a good feeling with this new track. It’s a typical American venue with great facilities and huge grandstands, so the experience of riding there is special. I like this racetrack, and it will be important for me and the team to have a good result here. I was fourth in the last race at Brno, but that was actually a little disappointing because I was so close to the podium again, so I look forward to getting back on track and putting that right. It won’t be easy, especially during the first practice session because it’s a different type of circuit and it’s not so easy to dial into the layout at the beginning. However, I expect us to be closer to the front at this race because the track is quite slow, and I think that we will have fewer problems than in Brno where the track amplified our issues. So I’m really looking forward to a good result at Indy."
COLIN EDWARDS (No. 5 Monster Yamaha Tech 3, Houston): "It’s Indianapolis. All the memories I have as a kid growing up and watching the Indy 500, and now to be able to go there and ride on that track. Just to ride on it, much less race on it, I think is pretty special in itself. OK, we’re not doing the full four corners (of the oval), but we’re using part of the track, running over the bricks. Just being in that area is quite special. Generally, any time you try to put a road course into the middle of an oval, usually 90 percent of the time it doesn’t work out. And I don’t know why that is. You’ve got to account for runoffs. You’ve got to account for "What if this happens; what if that happens?" Plus with Dorna and FIM, you’ve got to have enough safety to get the track to pass safety standards. And I was quite impressed (with Indianapolis). It’s actually a track that you don’t feel like you’re running around an infield. Of course, we know Indy’s huge. The track itself is just massive. But there’s plenty of real estate there so you don’t feel confined. That’s the main thing."
ALEIX ESPARGARO (Pramac Racing Ducati, Spain, making MotoGP debut at this event): "I have trained a lot during this period waiting for a call, but I would have never thought about racing in the top class. It will be for me a true honor ride for such a prestigious company as Ducati. I have to thank Pramac Racing, who have chosen me believing in my qualities. This season, after the unlucky events of the beginning of the season, I made it to race in the 250cc class in two occasions, Assen and Sachsenring, conquering respectively the fourth and the seventh position. Of course, I cannot expect similar results in MotoGP, but I will do my best to pay back the trust that the team has given me."
MIKA KALLIO (No. 36 Ducati Team, Finland): "Sunday will be my first race at Indy because even though I came here last year, the (250cc) race itself was canceled because of the weather. Anyway, I can’t say I don’t know the track because we did contest every practice session, including warm-up. It’s not exactly my favorite kind of track, but it’s OK other than the surface. There are three different kinds of asphalt, and that makes it really tricky to get a setup. Anyway, we’ll do our best, and I’ll like to be competing within the top five or six."
DANI PEDROSA (No. 3 Repsol Honda Team, Spain): "I’m really looking forward to riding in America again because the last time we were in the States, at Laguna Seca in July, we won the race. A result like that would be great for me and the team, and that’s what we’ll be aiming for, though we know we’ll have to work hard for it because our rivals have proved they are very strong in the last few races. I don’t think the gap they had at the last race in Brno was a true reflection of our pace compared to theirs, though, so I expect we’re going to be closer to them at Indy. The circuit itself is largely made up of second- and third-gear corners so it’s not one of my favorites to ride, but the venue itself is very impressive. I really hope the weather is going to be better than last year because the conditions in the race were pretty terrible, and the organizers were forced to stop it early because it was so dangerous. The team is motivated for Indy. We made some progress in the test after Brno, so we’re looking for another strong weekend."
CHRIS VERMEULEN (No. 7 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, Australia): "I’m looking forward to going to Indianapolis, as it is such an amazing venue and a really well-organized event. We didn’t really get the best out of the place last year, as the race was hit by a hurricane and had to be stopped early, so I hope the weather is a lot better this year. We made a big step with the bike at Brno in the last GP, and although the result wasn’t what we wanted, we certainly have a clear indication of how the new engine will work in the remaining races. We need to be on the pace as quick as possible at Indy and see what we can do."