2009 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP Interviews: Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, Toni Elias
MODERATOR: We’ll start with Valentino Rossi. Good to be back, Valentino? Indianapolis, it’s a very special place, isn’t it?
VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes, it’s very good to be back, especially with this good weather. And yeah, this place is full of history, 100 years from the first race of motorcycles. So is, I go on the track today and is a good track, is a track built for going the opposite way from the Formula One in a lot of places. So the corners are a bit strange, but we have some important data hours from last year where we were fast on the dry and the wet. We are ready for the first start of the work.
MODERATOR: Obviously, the big news for the team this week is Jorge Lorenzo signed another one-year contract with Fiat Yamaha. Makes life interesting for you.
ROSSI: Yes, because we hear a lot of rumors before that Jorge is maybe move to Honda or to Ducati. For sure if Jorge to change bike is a big, is a lot a lot of changes in MotoGP, no? And is interesting. But Jorge remain. I think he do the right choice because in this moment our bike is not the fastest on the straight, but is very good in the corners. We have good setting. We work a lot with the engineers, and the bike is well balanced. So I think at the end he make the right choice.
MODERATOR: And since we spoke to you last obviously after Brno, you had the one day test at Brno, how did that go?
ROSSI: Yes, we work a lot for next year but not for the last six races. So in the last part of the season the bike remain the same. We tried the new version of the M1 with a different chassis and we try, also, slightly different engine for next year to make more kilometers and we take some data, the lap time was not so bad. But now we have to be concentrated and focus on the last six races because I have a good advantage in the championship, but six races is a long, long way to go. And we will start to work on the 2010 bikes Tuesday after Valencia.
MODERATOR: Yeah, we spoke to Loris Capirossi earlier after he re-signed with Suzuki. He said Suzuki will start working now, testing now on the new Suzuki for next year because so few tests during the winter. That is important.
ROSSI: Yes, it’s a little bit what’s happened in Formula One last year, Ferrari, McLaren work very much on the current car for fight for the championship, but at the end, they are in the delay for this year.
Usually in Yamaha we work step by step, always is a small development, but usually in the right way. So for us, for sure, the main issue is make a lot of points and some other victories from now to the end of the championship.
MODERATOR: Valentino, thanks very much.
We come to Valentino’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Dani Pedrosa. Dani, you just walk into Indianapolis, and it’s just a special place, isn’t it?
DANI PEDROSA: Yes, it’s a very special place. It’s very traditional here for the racing. So it’s good to be here to have the championship racing at this place. I think for our sport is very good. And this morning we had even in the streets of Indianapolis, so it was great. I think here the people enjoy the racing a lot.
MODERATOR: Last year terrific reception for motorcycles here, a big crowd, just the weather that spoiled things, wasn’t it?
PEDROSA: Yeah, last year was difficult for everybody on the track, but looks like this year it’s going to be better. So we hope we can have the three races this time and the fans can enjoy all the classes.
MODERATOR: In Brno, obviously, you tested also for one day after the Grand Prix. Did you get through a lot of work?
PEDROSA: Yes, we did some testing, unfortunately after the break in the midday it was raining a little, and it was two or three hours we couldn’t test. But we did more or less a good test, especially in the morning, so it was good.
MODERATOR: It was quite interesting what Valentino was saying, also, about testing for next year because there’s a lack of time during the winter. Will Honda do that?
PEDROSA: I hope, because, of course, in the last years I couldn’t test so much and this year, this next year coming, I’m sure it will be much more crucial because not so many tests. And it will be important to be in shape soon.
MODERATOR: Just finally the Repsol Honda story, the signing, the non-signing. What is the latest? Have you actually signed a contract yet?
PEDROSA: No news. Just everything still the same as Brno.
MODERATOR: So you’re still discussing and still waiting?
PEDROSA: Yes, same situation as last race.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Dani.
We come to Valentino’s left, ladies and gentlemen, as I said, Colin Edwards currently fifth in the World Championship. Just saying, Colin, apart from the weather last year, it was such a fabulous event here, wasn’t it? I think motorcycles were made so welcome at such a car-orientated track and place.
COLIN EDWARDS: It was great. Apart from the weather and the cooler Styrofoam lids flowing across the track and tents falling over, I think everybody was pretty surprised how many people did show up. Looking at Saturday’s weather forecast, nobody was going to be here, everybody was running for cover, but they showed up. They were troopers and thanks to the fans that came out here, and this should be should be a lot better.
MODERATOR: What about the track itself? Valentino was just saying he’s been around it this afternoon, and he likes it; seemed to go down pretty well with the riders because there was a lot of discussion before we came here how the track would be, wasn’t there?
EDWARDS: Yeah, there was. You know, I mean I got so many memories of the Indy 500, my dad drunk watching it — (Laughter) — at home and taking care of him, and Danny Sullivan looping it (in 1985). That year, actually, Danny Sullivan looped out, and then he came back and won the race. The ironic thing is in 2000 I did the Race of Champions, and Danny Sullivan was one of my teammates at the Nations Cup. So that was all pretty cool. It was all intertwined in my head.
To come here and race motorcycles is really special. To run over the bricks, and, you know, the track configuration, anytime you try to put in a stadium like this, usually it doesn’t work out. But for some reason the track, the space is so big that you don’t feel like you’re in a stadium atmosphere. You’re kind of around the back, and it works out good.
MODERATOR: The season for you just fifth in the championship, obviously the very good result at Donington, you must be pleased with what’s going on.
EDWARDS: Yeah, it’s been good. The guy that came up with this five engines for seven races, I need to have a talk with him. I’m never happy about that. But you know, we do what we have to do. I think next year is going to be really difficult, I think, for everybody, six engines for 18 races. That’s a hint to everybody out there. We’re not in economic slowdown anymore, I think we’re coming out of it, so let’s change that rule quick. No, it should be good.
MODERATOR: And the future, we ask you every week, any further down the road knowing what you’re going to be doing?
EDWARDS: I don’t know, dominoes or marbles. I don’t know; we’ll do something. At the end of the day, I enjoy riding a motorcycle. So I’d like to stay where I am with everybody and with Yamaha. Of course, we have to see financially if everything fits together.
EDWARDS: Passport, got to make sure I have the right passport.
MODERATOR: Obviously, Jorge re-signing with Valentino and the Fiat Yamaha team, it’s made some difference to the whole situation.
EDWARDS: Yeah, I think he was the No. 1 domino. If he signed, everything was going to kind of fall into place. And he made the right decision. I mean, it doesn’t really matter what my opinion is, but I think personally, I think he made the right decision. So we’ll see. Everything still has to fall into place. As I say, it’s all going to line up.
MODERATOR: Colin, thanks very much.
Come to the far end, Toni Elias, riding for the San Carlo Gresini team. Toni, we spoke to you in Brno, one part of you was very, very happy, another part was very frustrated because you were saying, "What more can I do?" Is there any more news for you for 2010?
TONI ELIAS: I’m in the same situation, and I’m thinking the same. But it’s like this: I don’t know what will happen. I’m not worried about that. I try to be concentrate about my job and try to be at the maximum. Now I’m enjoying a lot with my bike, the setup, bike is OK. The last five, six races we are leading the second group, and this is good. We see the first four or five riders are very, very strong this year.
But future, if I have a good option, I’ll stay in MotoGP. If no, I will adapt and no problem. I believe in me. I think if it’s not this year, will be next or before — or after, sorry. And I think I am a good rider.
MODERATOR: I think we all agree with that, Toni. How difficult is it with you working with the team when you know next year that is it? Is it hard or does everybody just get on with the job?
ELIAS: No, I understand, I understood the situation. First of all, was Simoncelli because it was important for San Carlo. Then Melandri with Gresini and San Carlo wants 100 percent Italian team, and I understand this. It’s not a problem. I’m OK where I stay, but life is like this.
MODERATOR: After this weekend, we’ve talked to all the riders we’ve spoken to, you just walk into Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and you know you’re at a very special place.
ELIAS: Yes, it’s a very special place. I love to come here. Last year I was fast in dry condition, then I’m confident. I think we could do a good weekend here. I’m very confident.
MODERATOR: Toni, thank you very much, indeed.
Come to the far end, ladies and gentlemen, of course Nicky Hayden, a home race for Nicky. Nicky currently running 14th in the World Championship, but second in the race here last year, of course when Nicky was on the Honda. I think Colin summed it up in many ways for the American rider, for you being so close it’s special to be here.
NICKY HAYDEN: Yeah, it is. To have two races in America is really a privilege. I think I appreciate it more now because my first couple years in MotoGP, the closest we got to here was Brazil, and yesterday to drive here three-and-a-half hours is too easy, you know. I mean, I love being in Europe and the atmosphere there, but, you know, the traveling and stuff, I just forget how easy it is to drive up.
But yeah, obviously I’m looking forward to the weekend. I like the track and I like the place, and being in front of my home crowd is always worth a little something. So it’s been tough, it’s been a struggle, but I’m excited to be here and we’ll see what happens.
MODERATOR: It’s been a very difficult season. We’ve spoken about it a lot. There’s been sort of some false stones, hasn’t it? We keep thinking it’s looking better, then you go back, and then it comes back again. It’s been really up and down, hasn’t it?
HAYDEN: Hey, yeah. I mean, it’s been tough, sure, especially in the beginning. Certainly we didn’t start the season out very good with some big crashes. And then we made some changes to the team, but that wasn’t until Round 4. From there, things have been improving but it’s not — I mean, it’s hard to make progress here, but we have made progress and have gotten closer, you know, to that second group, obviously. The front group is still not on our radar, but, you know, it’s been a hard challenge but I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve worked hard and made a lot of progress. I really, even though it doesn’t look like it at times, feeling more and more comfortable on this bike and in this team. We’ve got six more tries, six more weekends to try to do something. It’s going to be tough but the team is working hard. Guys really have given me, you know, a lot better package. I feel more comfortable on it and I know how hard it’s going to be, but, hey, you know, it’s racing. That’s why we line up and see what happens.
MODERATOR: Expectancy will be high, won’t it, from the home fans and sometimes with the season you’ve had, that does make life very difficult.
HAYDEN: I’m sure some of the home people don’t understand. They think it’s your home track, you should just be able to go to the front, you know, and it doesn’t really go like that. Yeah, all you can give is all you’ve got. It’s not like I’ve been holding back anything and going to unleash it here.
Yeah, we’ll see. Hopefully — I probably didn’t have the ticket requests I had last year. Obviously, they’ve seen some of the results from this season and all found other things going on this weekend that they just couldn’t get away. So that’s all right. I’ve got a lot of support from my people around here and, yeah, I mean that’s not a problem.
MODERATOR: Just finally, Nicky, I think all the Europeans have never been to the (Indy) Mile which we went to last year, all looking forward to it again. It’s such a great event, I think especially for the Europeans who haven’t been before and it’s such an important part of American racing history, isn’t it?
HAYDEN: Yeah, it’s pretty good. I went last year and it’s good racing, and dirt tracking is where I got my start. It’s weird, struggling, not much sponsoring. But zero television basically and support from sponsors. It’s a shame the sport is not stronger because the racing is unbelievable. And those guys risk a lot and do absolute maximum, and a lot of them still have to work real jobs, which is just an absolute shame. But certainly I’d say come out; you’ll get your money’s worth. Last year was a great race and made me wish I was out there.
MODERATOR: Nicky, thank you. And good luck for the weekend.