On Monday, the American stars of MotoGP – Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards – participated in a teleconference hosted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the following transcript supplied from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hayden and Edwards discuss the MotoGP season so far, Indy MotoGP, safety, and other satisfying bits for fans of the world’s fastest motorcycle racing series.
IMS Teleconference Transcript:
MODERATOR: There are two American races, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. But you’ve made no secret whatsoever that this is your home race, with Indianapolis only being a couple of hours from your home in Owensboro. Talk about your anticipation for this race and how your buildup for getting ready for this event is different than either Laguna or any other race on the MotoGP schedule.
NICKY HAYDEN: This is definitely my home race. Laguna is great, and it’s cool to be in America. Indy, I just cross the state line, and I’m there. It’s really like racing in my back yard. It’s a track I like. I love the atmosphere there. It’s the Brickyard. It’s got a special mystique about it. A lot of racing has went on over the years there. Looking forward to trying to have a good weekend. It’s not exactly been an easy season for us, by any means. But as far as a buildup for this race, it’s not like I can really say we’re doing a whole lot different than any other weekend because we always to do the maximum. It is nice not to get the passport out and spend a day flying somewhere around the world. Just to jump in the car and head that way is pretty sweet.
MODERATOR: You’ve had two podium finishes here, on two different bikes. The first year was on a Honda and in ’09 on a Ducati. What about this circuit suits your style so well?
HAYDEN: That first year was really big for me. I actually had broken my foot in the X Games and had missed the two races before, at the Czech Republic and in Italy at Misano. I really went to Indy up against it. Was still on crutches. Was pretty quick all weekend. In the race, I got the lead for a while and ended up getting second. But I’m still a little bitter about that race because I led for a bit and had a good pace. But I probably had a little too soft of a rain tire on that day because our bike was working really good. We were going good until it started to rain again, and I had no tire left. The track had dried off. We burned up our rain tire, and it started raining again. Obviously, the winds moved in, and they had to pull the plug. The second year there on the Ducati I got third. Pretty distant third. I had Dovizioso kind of breathing on me late, and it wasn’t a gimme. Last year actually I qualified on the front row, but in the race I lost a knee slider. And in our sport, no knee slider on the left-hand side at a left-hand track makes for a long time. I’m looking forward to trying the new surface. It will be a little bit different this year, but it will be better. I know all the riders are excited about it.
Q: Are you sticking with the GP11.1 from here on out?
HAYDEN: Yeah, that’s the plan. We had a test after the last race in Czecho, and I had a full day on the new GP11.1. And it took me a couple of runs to make a few adjustments and get a feel for it, but we got down pretty much straightaway to the lap times I was doing with the GP11. Steadily got a little bit quicker as the day went on and got pretty consistent. We didn’t break any track records or nothing, unfortunately. But I left with a good, positive feeling about it. Looking forward to getting my first chance to race it at Indy. I think the new gearbox will definitely help coming on to that front straightaway with acceleration. I really have to thank Ducati and my team because they worked hard. This whole new GP11.1 was talked about. I didn’t know when they would enough parts to make it available for me. From here on out, barring any unforeseen problems, we’ll have enough bikes and enough parts to have two of them for each race. I’m grateful for it and want to repay them with some results.
Q: Where are you with engines?
HAYDEN: I’m right on that fine line, especially switching over now. We had discussed trying the GP11.1, we talked about it in Laguna. I did one day with it there. But really wasn’t a lot faster, and I only had one bike at the time. With the engine situation, I kind of needed to finish it up running the full distance with the engines I had because this year we’re limited to the amount of engines we could use. Being that I used it all weekend in Brno, you never know with engines, but we should just be able to make it without starting from pit road.
Q: There were three fatalities suffered in races in an eight-day stretch, two of them here in Indianapolis – one at the Fairgrounds and one at the Motor Speedway – last year at this time. The common thing is that all of these guys fell and were hit by trailing riders. Is that one of a rider’s greatest fears?
HAYDEN: Well, obviously, that is the ultimate price. Definitely last year was something we talked about in the Riders Safety Commission: What’s the best way to do when you are stuck in the middle of the track, and there is a big group. Especially for young riders, the first thing they want to is run across the track, get off the track. Sometimes that’s not the best way. We know that’s the price of racing and doing what you love to do, but it’s unfortunate when it happens.
Q: It’s one of those hazards of your sport, no matter how good the riders, the training, the procedures and the equipment, it can just happen.
HAYDEN: Well, it can happen in our sport, and it can happen in life. You can’t live in a shell. You’ve got to make the most of every day. Check in when you check out. When it’s your time, it’s your time. So try to enjoy every day and make the most of it.
Q: How old were you when you started racing, and is it true that you were so small that you had to start in the back of the pack so you could have an adult hold your bike upright?
HAYDEN: Yeah, I started when I was young, 3. I loved it, fell in love, and I’ve loved motorcycles ever since. It’s given me a great life. I’ve got to see the world. I was out riding today at our house with my brothers and a couple of friends. To me, riding motorcycles is one of the great treats in life.
Q: And the risks never made you second-guess?
HAYDEN: No, I’ve never second-guessed. This is what I do, what I love to do. I’ve lost friends on motorcycles and lost other people in all other kinds of strange accidents. It’s life.
Q: You’ve kind of had an interesting opportunity, at least twice over the last four years, of being able to get on the IMS surface prior to the other racers arriving. Has anybody ever given you grief about it in the paddock, and does it give you any advantage? I know you’re on a production bike.
HAYDEN: The first year I got to ride the Indian around there, which really was one of my favorite moments from the Brickyard. Not really. It’s more for sure. If I could go there now and test with my race bike and my race team, it would be a nice advantage. Going there on a street bike, it was a nice 1198SP Ducati gave me. I had fun riding around, riding some wheelies. But it wasn’t like a real test. It was more for show. Rode around with some onboard cameras on my bike, talked with some local press about what was going on. I can’t say it was any big advantage. Nobody ever gives me grief. Racers know it’s not something that’s actually going to help. It’s common for riders at their home country, before they race, go there and make some PR or something. A grand opening of a track or do something to generate some interest in their country or their area. I’m looking forward to it, though. The surface on a street bike seemed perfect, so I hope that’s how it feels on a GP bike. The track should get better and better as the weekend goes on, and it gets cleaned up. I’m sure the lap times are going to improve. It should make for better racing here than in the past. I know all the riders were really pumped to see Indy repave it. We asked for a couple of corners that were getting bad, and Indy went and stepped up, way up, and had repaved from basically Turn 4 to the finish line. So it’s going to be good.
Q: With the new tire allocation from Bridgestone, you probably won’t be needing those super-softs in the morning at Indy. How’s that working out for you?
HAYDEN: We’ve only done one race with the new tire rules, and it’s very, very small. It sounds bigger than it really is. The front tire deal, Indy we don’t expect to be too cold, so I don’t even see that being an issue. On the rear, it’s really small. We can choose one extra-soft or one extra-hard. But the actual amount of tires we have is the same. But it’s a better way. It’s something we wanted, and Bridgestone listened. But it’s not something that we have to plan a different way or we have to build up. We’re not having to test extra tires or anything like that. It doesn’t change much.
Q: You turned 30 this year, a couple of weeks ago. GP riders who are in their mid-30s or past are pretty rare. Have you given any thought to what you would like to do career-wise post-racing?
HAYDEN: Not a lot. I probably should say I’m preparing this, preparing that, but I’m fully committed to MotoGP. I’ve got another year on my contract with Ducati. Really, I don’t know what’s next for me. I love what I do now. It would be more fun if I was closer to the front. But I don’t know what’s next. I hope it’s something that involves motorcycles, but I’m not planning that far out yet.
Q: Do you anticipate racing, if you were to end your GP career, would you anticipate doing any other type of racing on motorcycles to close out your career?
HAYDEN: It’s real possible. I love motorcycles and racing. If I’m healthy, dirt track, I’ve still got a few little things left unfinished there I’d like another crack at. There’s worse jobs in the world than riding a motorcycle. Hopefully I don’t have to go get a 9 to 5, but definitely it’s possible.
MODERATOR: There’s been a lot of talk about the development of the Ducati GP11 and 11.1 and where the team may be headed in the future with bike design. You’ve had a unique perspective in that this is your third year on a Ducati with its all-carbon fiber chassis, but you spent the first six years of your career on a more traditional, two-part frame with the aluminum trellis. How difficult is it to make that transition, like Valentino is this year? How tough was it for you when you switched from Honda to Ducati?
HAYDEN: It’s definitely a different bike. All of the Japanese bikes kind of have more of a similar feel and similar DNA. Where the Ducati, it’s its own bike, it’s its own brand. Sometimes that’s awesome. When you have the Ducati working well, it’s an absolute weapon. But we went to spec tires, which I don’t think has helped the Ducati situation. When they had more tire options, a higher-level tire, it was probably better for our bike and that chassis. It has its advantages. In the rain, I would say we have the best bike. But it’s more than just chassis. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. It’s electronics, engine, it all has to come together to make a good bike. We’re learning a lot at Ducati this year. I’m definitely kicking around ideas for the future. We haven’t got the results we have hoped for. I think the bike certainly is capable of more. Still a lot of racing left to go this year, so hopefully we can put up some results that the bike deserves.
Q: Indy has more than its fair share of stop-and-go corners. A little bit of point and squirt. Looking forward to next year and maybe the extra oomph that you guys might get out of the 1000 and whatever formula Ducati comes up with, do you see that bike helping you out a bit or maybe even creating a bit of sideways excitement?
HAYDEN: Yeah, I think the new rules are going to be a lot better for the riders, the fans. I think it’s going to be a lot better show. It might not be quite back to the old days, say seven, eight years ago when the electronics wasn’t so developed as far as making the bike look loose. Now they look more tame. From outside from a distance and watching on TV, it looks easy. But a lot of things look easy from the couch watching on TV. But I think the new rules are perfect. I hope it suits my style better. I’ve already had the chance to ride the new Ducati, next year’s bike. We haven’t been on the same track at the same time with our competitors, so we don’t know exactly where we stand, but we’ve gotten a good start. The bike’s got some good stuff about it. I’m looking forward to next year a lot.
Q: I know you can get the 800 sideways at Indy, I think it was Turns 10 and 11. Maybe have a little bit more of that opportunity in a controlled fashion?
HAYDEN: In the 800s, I probably wasn’t going real fast when I had it sideways. It probably looked cool for a couple of corners. But with these bikes, if you want truly want to be going real fast, you need to be riding them in line, hooked up and really flowing. So hopefully I’m not doing too much sideways, getting too squirrelly until maybe after the race, or something. But in the future, hopefully with the new bikes that comes back into play because that’s a card I feel like I, my background as a dirt-tracker, I have a good feel for a bike moving around. But that’s down the road.
Q: Can you comment on what the spirits are like inside the team? Are you seeing solutions for this year and next, or is it still a struggle and a grind?
HAYDEN: I would say the atmosphere around there is, I’ve been impressed. Nobody has lost hope. Nobody is complaining, pointing fingers. Really, everybody’s just working to try and make it better, especially on my side of the team. They’ve worked like dogs to build new bikes, come in and give us more options. Everybody at Ducati, they don’t like losing, either. It’s how it goes sometimes. I’ve learned a lot. You learn more about people when they are struggling than when they’re on top. It’s easy to smile and say all the right things when you’re doing good and everything is rosy, but that’s not exactly been the case for us this year. I told Fillipo (Preziosi) that after the last test. I’ve been impressed with his team and how all the guys have just kept their head down and kept working. Those guys, they get there early and stay late. Some of the engineers I spoke to back at the factory, they’re all on board. I’ve got to believe that hard work and that good attitude is going to pay off in the long run. It normally always does, and I hope this is no different.
Q: With everything that has happened this year, are you more confident or less confident going into the 2012 season?
HAYDEN: Until we really get on those bikes and really start testing them, we don’t know what to expect. I’m excited. Uncertainty sometimes is exciting. I’m looking forward to it a lot. I think everybody is. It’s just a new bike; it’s a new fresh start. More power. Any rider, we like going fast. We like to be able to control the bike with the throttle and have that in our hand. I’m very much looking forward to it.
Q: Casey Stoner is having a great year. He has won six races, but he’s also what’s acknowledged to be on the best bike. Jorge is staying with him on the Yamaha. Who has impressed you the most this year?
HAYDEN: That’s tough to say. Casey is leading the championship. I’m not surprised. I’ve always known Casey has the talent. But also that gives me motivation. I just watched the Indy race a couple of days ago, and last year at Indy, I outqualified him and was in front of him in the race until my knee plug came off and still led him for a few laps. I’ve got to find hope in that. The level is high. All of the guys are extremely quick. At the right time, they all impress you. You catch a guy doing something and think, “Wow, they’re all that good.” Simoncelli, I would say from the step he made from last year to this year as far just having the speed. Yeah, he’s made some mistakes and whatever, but he’s been impressive as the guy to make that big of a step in a season as far as outright speed. And even Dani. Now that he’s come back from injury like he always does and proves how strong he is, especially from his last injury, that had to be a big blow for him. This was a year he was expected to fight for the title. But he came back from that and doesn’t look like he lost any speed. That front group, Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo, they’re the three guys on Sundays really setting the bar. They’re the guys doing it.
Q: A home race like this has got to be daunting and exciting and overwhelming. You’re four hours from home. What’s it like inside your head?
HAYDEN: They put a new bridge in, and it’s closer than four hours now. Cut down on drive time for everybody. It’s not hard to get up for any of these races. But certainly there’s something extra, a track you like, a home, you can’t really say you try any harder because you’ve got to try your hardest every week. But there is something. It’s fun. Your brothers, sisters, everybody is there. I’ve got more friends and family probably coming than any year we’ve been to Indy yet, by a long way. Just try to enjoy it and use it. The excitement and somewhat pressure, sometimes it can work in your favor. I remember the first time we went to Laguna after being in MotoGP a few years, my first-ever home GP, man, I felt a lot of pressure going into that race because I really didn’t know what to expect. Come home after it had been four or five years racing in America, and that worked out pretty good for me. A couple of other times, the big races have been good to me. So somehow I can turn it into a result on Sunday.
Q: New bridge. What are going to drive down? Pull something off the lot from your dad, or you finally going to let us see that new swag German car they gave you?
HAYDEN: I’m probably going to drive that new car. Hopefully I’m not driving. Hopefully Tom’s behind the wheel, and I’m riding shotgun. But AMG has been a great sponsor for us. I’m looking forward getting it out on the bike road and see what kind of time we can make.
Q: And for the record, you have no more passes left to give anyone, so stop asking, right?
HAYDEN: Yeah, they’re coming in pretty good. A guy asked us lunch today, wanted to know if I had a pocket full of them. I wish it was that easy, to get all of the paddock passes you want. But at some point, you’ve got to start telling people no. Most people understand. It’s part of it. It’s fun, though.
MODERATOR: Colin, what’s happening?
COLIN EDWARDS: Oh, man. Just got a new gun. Putting a scope on it, that kind of stuff. What we do in Texas down here.
MODERATOR: What kind of weapon did you add to the arsenal?
EDWARDS: It’s a 338 Edge. That’s about a 2,000-yard gun if you really want to bring some meat home, I guess.
MODERATOR: How do you prepare differently for a race in America, especially at Indy? Is there any sort of mental preparation or things you do different than any other round of the championship?
EDWARDS: Man, I’m probably going to say the same pretty much as Nicky said. There’s definitely a bit more pressure, and if it’s even possible to ride harder, which we’re already doing, then, yeah. I tend to maybe be a little more carefree and maybe take a little more risk than you would because it’s at home, and hopefully you get away with that.
MODERATOR: Talk about your season this far. Where are you at in terms of where you thought you’d be on the grid and the team’s development has been this season?
EDWARDS: oh, man, sitting ninth in the points. I don’t think anybody can ever be happy about that. But at the end of the day, we had a bike quit on us sitting in a podium position in Jerez. There’s 16 points down the drain. Broke a collarbone, didn’t race at Barcelona, so there’s a few points down the drain. The one podium, obviously, being the highlight, at Silverstone. Apart from that, it’s tough. It’s just tough this year. You’ve got so many factory Hondas out there and Yamahas, and everybody’s riding good. You get in the top five or the top six, and it feels like you’ve done something. In the past, it was shoot for the podium. Maybe you just have to back that down a little bit.
Q: What in the world is going on with you and Yamaha for next year?
EDWARDS: We got way too many people listening right now. At the moment, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think they know. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on. I have a little bit of an inclination now. I cannot say anything right now, no. Will we make any kind of announcement at Indy? Probably not. Misano, maybe, I don’t know. We’ve got a few pieces of the puzzle laying around. We’ve just got to put those pieces together.
Q: I find it hard to believe you won’t be riding next year. I think you’ll be riding somewhere. Am I off-base?
EDWARDS: No, you’re not off-base. Probably the worst thing is that I’m not ready to retire. That would make it easy for everybody. But at the moment, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having a good time, and I’m still motivated. Until that goes away, I’m going to ride motorcycles.
Q: You’re renowned as a great development rider. These new CRT teams, claiming rule teams, it seems like a guy like you could do possibly quite amazing things over there. Your thoughts?
EDWARDS: I agree with you 100 percent. Right now I’m working on developing a new load for this new rifle I got. I’m going to stick with that development until somebody wants me to go ride motorcycles.
Q: I wanted to get your view on the tire allocation change by Bridgestone starting at Brno and for the rest of the season.
EDWARDS: You look at Assen, you look at Germany, there were just a couple of places where we were just catapulting the guys left and right. It’s basically just for safety. Just for safety, you have a little bit more in the barrel if you’ve got to reach down if the weather is cold, or whichever it might be, you’re actually going to have something that’s going to be halfway safe. It was a good decision. A little bit late, maybe. But at the end of the day, at least we have that option if the weather is kind of weird, we can run seomthing a bit softer.
Q: Otherwise no real change, though?
EDWARDS: No, I wouldn’t really say, “Wow, we’ve got more tires!” No, it wasn’t like that. We still do our work, do what we’ve got to do, run what we’ve got to run. If we’re ever in any bind, we can pull out the different allocation.
Q: Do you expect different tires for the 1000s or similar to what you have now?
EDWARDS: Yeah, we’ve been developing something a bit different. I don’t know what they want you to know or not know, but it’s basically on the safety side. You’ve got a little bit more feel, exit out of the pit. That’s where we’ve all been lacking a little bit. Hence the high sides to the Moon on cold tires. It’s got a little bit more feel. I like the tire a lot better. But it’s not that much different, to be honest with you. Just working on that feel for the first couple of laps.
Q: Maybe a broader temperature spread?
EDWARDS: It could be that. It could be something with construction. It could be something with compound. I don’t know. Something around there.
Q: I hate to introduce a downer here, but three riders suffered fatal injuries within an eight-day stretch starting here a year ago, Jesse Phibbs at the Indiana Fairgrounds, Peter Lenz out at the Speedway and Shoya Tomizawa in Italy. Did you know any of those guys? Were you friendlhy with any of those guys?
EDWARDS: Oh, yeah, sure. Peter was my protégé, if I can say that. I used to keep in contact with him and his dad and had a good relationship. He come to Laguna and hung out when he had the big halo around his leg when he broke his leg, and we shoved him around the pit and put him on the bike. We had a pretty good relationship. Last year was hard. When we found out he got killed, it was like, “Holy moly, man.” That’s a little too close to home. Being that he was so young, it was even more heartbreaking. Like you said, Tomizawa the next week. Both were freak deals, freak accidents. We know the risks, and you’ve just got to keep that in the back of your head.
Q: Was Peter really a good kid, a neat kid with a great future?
EDWARDS: Hell, absolutely. Great kid. Just the nicest kid in the world. 100 percent. Good family, good structure, good manners. Just being around him, you’d just smile because he was funny, as well. He was a great kid, and he’s going to be missed by everybody. And definitely had lots of talent. He was going places.
Q: How about Shoya? Another bright face with a quick smile?
EDWARDS: Um-hm. I didn’t know him too well. The “hi, how are you?” but nothing really any closer than that. I know what I felt when Peter had his accident, and I know there were a lot of people that felt the same way when Tomizawa had his. It definitely hits home at times.
Q: Ever think of doing a travelling Boot Camp, or is Texas the home for the boot camp?
EDWARDS: The Texas Tornado Boot Camp at the moment, this is where we all learned. We all learned our skills doing just this. Kenny, Kenny Sr., Kenny Jr., Valentino, Jorge. We all do this to really ingrain our fundamentals and get our skill level up. As far as a travelling Tornado, I don’t know. We’ve got something to build on. Our first thought was come up with a road-racing school once we build this and get it to where we want and get a little bit of the road courses in. We’ve got room to expand. The first year of it going, it’s going fantastic. So I’m looking forward to the future.
Q: Simoncelli got on the box last race. Does that change your bet with Ben?
EDWARDS: I think we got rid of that bet. It was just turning into way too many shots. We hadn’t been keeping up with it, and it just turned into a lost cause after a few races this year. Obviously, he crashed and crashed and had a few bad ones. Now, it’s tough. He’s tough. We did away with that bet, I think.
Q: Those videos you’ve been doing with Yamaha, you’ve showed some tremendous talent as an actor. Have you ever considered acting as a career post-racing?
EDWARDS: Oh, man, if you think riding motorcycles is hard, try being an actor. That’s not an easy business to get into, either. I’ve had the same comment. Guys have said, “You’ve got the ability to do this or do that.” If somebody comes knocking on my door and wants me to come be in their movie, fantastic. I’m all down with it. But it’s nothing that I’m going to move to Hollywood and going to pursue day in and day out, but there might be some possibilities down the road.
Q: Is there more development being done on the racing suits, leathers that might offer more protection? Air bag deployment, and such. Do you think that development will continue?
EDWARDS: I wish I could answer that question for you. I’ve been with SPIDI with since I think ’97 or ’98, something like that, I’ve never tested the air bag system. I know they have a road-going suit or some jackets that have it. I’ve never tested it or never been offered to test it. My suits are very much the same as they were, obviously a little bit here and there, the protection is getting a little bit better, but no major strides on my side. I think there is something there, but I think you have to ask somebody who wears one of those suits.
Q: You’ve never talked about your fears, at least with me. Can you talk about some of the things that scare you? Do you not like heights, snakes, spiders? What is it?
EDWARDS: My wife gives me shit about this all the time: I don’t like ants. For some reason, ants freak me out. It’s probably one of my biggest fears. As a kid growing up in Texas and who’s the tough boy on the block, you put your hand in the ant bed and see how many bites before you start freaking out. Just stupid games you play as a kid. And I think since then, I don’t know, man, I don’t really go good with them, especially if you look down and your whole leg is covered in them even though they don’t hurt that bad.
Q: No, really, what scares you?
EDWARDS: Other than that, no real fears, to be honest with you. I like to have my feet on the ground. I’m not a big flier or helicopter-type guy. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I don’t choose to go out and get my pilot’s license or go fly a helicopter. I’m not really down with any of that.
Q: I know Nicky has Indy as his home race. For a long time, you’ve had Laguna. Once Austin rolls around, are you going to change allegiances?
EDWARDS: Well, of course. That’s only a couple hours down the road. At the end of the day, Laguna and Indy are both the home races for us. Can I get in my car and come on over? No, I’m still going to have to fly. But at the end of the day, it’s roughly the same time zone and same food and folks, and we all speak the same language. As far as Austin, I’ll be able to jump in my truck and haul butt. I’m ready for that.
Q: Nicky has had the opportunity the last couple of years to get a first look at the track, on a road bike. Do you ever wonder if he’s getting any advantage?
EDWARDS: No. You’d have to ride one of our bikes to really understand that question. There are no similarities. Maybe riding position, but everything else is completely different. If it was a brand-new track, you show up at a brand-new track, it’s hard to learn it. You need to go to sleep. It’s like snowboarding. You go to sleep, you wake up the next morning, and then it all kind of clicks. You can’t do too much the first day. But, yeah, if you had a road bike, that might be a little, small advantage to learn the circuit.
Q: How are you doing on engines at this stage of the season?
EDWARDS: I think I’m doing pretty good; I don’t think I’ve blown any of them. We have our engines we run in practice and qualifying, and we’ve got our engines that we’ll throw in Saturday night and kind of keep them fresh as race engines. I thought I blew one up at Jerez, but that was just a fuel pump issue. I think I still got them all in the barn.
Q: No worries about starting from pit road or anything like that?
EDWARDS: No. I think there are a couple of them out there that are struggling, but we’re not one of them.
Q: Indy is unique in that it’s the only combination oval-road course in MotoGP. Is there any change in the way you approach a track like this, either on your bike or in your setup?
EDWARDS: No, not really. For that matter, you could say Sachsenring. Sachsenring, that whole track you could fit that inside the oval that we race on in Indy. A little more elevation to it. But you don’t really do anything different. You know from years past what suspension settings might be, what springs you might use and especially what tires are going to work. Well, this year, if it’s anything like Mugello, they repaved it and we had so much grip. It was so much fun to ride on. And no bumps. That’s what I’m looking forward and hoping that Indy’s about. Smooth as a pool table and lots of grip. That’ll change the equation a little bit, but we kind of generally know a rough setting anyways.
Q: Because of the repaving, does that change some of the shifting or the gears you’re going to be in some of the corners?
EDWARDS: Our shift patterns probably are going to be the same. The main thing is stroke and springs. Obviously, if we have the same tires as last year, if they weren’t as good or better, how much load we’re able to carry. Then you’ve just got to basically back up from there and start adjusting spring rates and preload and chassis and getting the thing to work. Generally when you get new pavement, you get a lot more traction. So it’s more of a high-load racetrack that we’re just going to have to compensate with springs.
Q: In Turn 16, are you guys in first gear? Do you ever get into first gear?
EDWARDS: That’s a good question. I think that last corner might be first gear. Oh, man, I don’t know. I need my data guy here to show me the sheet. I don’t know. I just keep grabbing gears, and I go down a couple when I know I need to.