2012 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix
The following transcript is why we love when MotoGP arrives at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Not only does IMS press relations offer smaller interviews with riders and detailed releases on the events at and around the speedway, they also offer the full transcript of the typical Thursday pre-race conference. And of course, much talk revolved around Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi returning to Yamaha next season…enjoy.
Following is the transcript of the pre-race conference that took place Thursday at IMS ahead of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix:
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome. It’s the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix here in the United States of America. Of course, the second race in succession in the States.
At the press conference today in the center, Jorge Lorenzo, riding the factory Yamaha, the World Championship leader, five wins this season and the winner at Indianapolis in 2009, and three podium finishes also for Jorge Lorenzo in Indianapolis.
To his right, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda, third in the World Championship; Casey, four wins this season. He’s won the last three races in America, Casey Stoner. Of course, the most important one for him probably the last one, that was at Laguna Seca three weeks ago.
To his right, Nicky Hayden joins, sixth in the World Championship, riding the Ducati. Two podiums for Nicky in Indianapolis, 2008 riding the Honda then and, of course, 2009, which was his first podium for Ducati.
To the left of Jorge, Stefan Bradl, Stefan the current Moto2 champion, doing sixth in the World Championship with Nicky Hayden; best result in the season coming just a couple of grand prixes ago in MotoGP, fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. Of course, this is his first season in the MotoGP World Championship.
Far end, no introduction needed. He’s the nine times World Champion, Valentino Rossi, eighth in the championship. Best result, second place at Le Mans this season; and, of course, a winner here at Indianapolis 2008 just before the hurricane arrived.
We start with Jorge Lorenzo. Jorge, not much of a summer break, quite sure. Here you are Indianapolis, important race, and you’ve got a good record here, haven’t you?
JORGE LORENZO: Yeah, world record? Sorry? Which record?
MODERATOR: Your record at Indianapolis.
LORENZO: For the last — yeah.
MODERATOR: Sorry, not the lap record. I meant a good record for what you’ve done here, the results you have here. Three podium finishes and the win here.
LORENZO: It’s a record? (Laughter)
MODERATOR: No, it’s not a record. But it could be a record, actually. That I’m not sure about. You’ve done well here.
LORENZO: Yes, 2009 I won. In the last two years it was one of my worst races. So for record, for the moment is not the new record here. (Laughter)
MODERATOR: Here we go. Eight races to go in the World Championship, 23-point lead over Dani, 32-point lead over Casey. A good position to be in, but I think Laguna Seca showed it’s still going to be a tough fight.
LORENZO: Yes, of course, it’s going to be tough. We all know that Casey and Dani are very strong this year. We are also strong; compared to last year, much stronger. We have been very consistent, always in the first two positions. This is our main strong point; that’s why we are leading the championship.
But anyway, still eight more races to go, so we must keep more or less at the same if we want to be World Champion because I don’t see Casey and Dani out of the podium in so many races from this point to the end.
MODERATOR: And I think you spent the last week or the last few days at Colin Edwards’ Boot Camp. Will that help you in the race?
LORENZO: I hope. I hope, but I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Those bikes are just for fun, just for to keep the concentration to be very focused and to make some approximation of racing, but it’s very far from the feeling you can get in the big bike.
Anyway, we have a lot of fun. I’ve been running a lot and getting fitter than before. So, for sure, these weeks have been positive for us because normally all the riders are making their vacations.
MODERATOR: During the summer break news, of course, that you have not a new teammate, a former teammate, Valentino Rossi joining you at Yamaha next year.
LORENZO: Yeah, I think it’s interesting to see how we can handle again Valentino and me on the same team and the same bike. I’m very interested to see what is going on. And for me, it’s a big pleasure to be teammate with him again.
MODERATOR: Jorge, thanks very much indeed. And get record and record right the next time. Thank you.
Come to Jorge’s right, of course, Casey Stoner. Currently third in the World Championship. Fresh Casey from an excellent victory at Laguna Seca and won the last three races in America. As I said, 32 points between you and Jorge. You’ve got to keep that pressure up, haven’t you?
CASEY STONER: I think Jorge knows how to handle the pressure. He’s won a lot of World Championships, and he’s been riding pretty much flawlessly this season. We thought his season in 2010 was impressive and, in my opinion, this season is even more so. Except for the incident with Bautista, which there’s a very good chance he would have won that race, at least probably being in the top two, he would have kept that one or two result for the whole season.
So it’s been very difficult to get on top of him. We’ve got our own issues and problems with the bike that we really need to resolve. Laguna was a good track for us because it went left, and we have a lot less issues when we go around a left-hand circuit. So we’ll have to see how we can do here again; it’s going the right direction for us. But, unfortunately, when the track does go to left, we sort of ignore a lot of problems that are created when we go back to the right. So we need to make sure we stay focused, keep trying to improve the bike so when things do get a little tricky later in the season, we can keep up the pressure. But we’ve got a long way to go. We lost a lot of points in a very short amount of time, from no fault other than my own. And we’ve got a long way to scrape back those points.
MODERATOR: Lots gone on during the summer break. No changes in mind for you about coming back next year?
STONER: No. You know, I think the summer break actually cemented it even more that I want to be away from racing. To be honest, this season has been very tough to find motivation to continue going, to continue pushing all the time. There’s been a few races that I’ve been a little bit downbeat and I’m struggling to find that hunger that I want to really win. So I’m always having to try and chase it and find it somewhere. It’s not always easy. So we’ll continue doing what we’ve been doing and, you know, try and sort some of the issues out and see if we can keep fighting for the championship at the end of the year.
MODERATOR: But still the only World Championship winner on the Ducati. Still must be very proud about that.
STONER: To be honest, I’m not looking at statistics and things like that. I think what every rider should be looking for is a little bit of respect. Some of the riders always criticizing each other and things like this and if respect is returned, then there’s not a problem. But I think what we did with Ducati was great, but it wasn’t just me. It was my team, my teammates, everybody that’s helped and actually put a lot of input in toward that bike. So it’s disappointing to see the results they’re getting at the moment, but I hope to see them bounce back soon.
MODERATOR: Casey, thanks very much indeed. Come to Casey’s right, of course, ladies and gentlemen, Nicky Hayden. This is really a home race for you, isn’t it, Nicky? We used to say Laguna, but this is the proper home race for you.
NICKY HAYDEN: Yes, for sure. Laguna is close but this one I consider my home race now, being just across the state line in Kentucky. It’s great to come here. Indy is a great track, especially now that it’s repaved. It’s gotten a lot better. So looking forward to hopefully having a good weekend. I like this track. It won’t be easy, especially with these front guys going so fast, but I certainly hope to have our best result of the season.
MODERATOR: Everything has been going on around you, but here you go, Laguna Seca, new contract, settled. You can really concentrate on everything now.
HAYDEN: Yeah, it’s nice to know your future, and I’m definitely happy to be back with Ducati. I love my team, the guys I work there, and I believe in the potential. It’s not like Ducati has never won before. We won before and, yeah, looking forward to the new partnership with Audi. I know it will be tough to make any real changes in the short term, but it’s an exciting time, and hopefully that’s going to play out for us both in terms of financial for Ducati, technical terms, a lot of resources there. So that should be something we can hopefully use to our advantage and build on.
MODERATOR: You say the short term. I think you’ve got four sixth places this year. Can you push on from there? Eight races left, and they come in a short space of time, don’t they?
HAYDEN: Yeah, as far as I mean the bike, you know, big changes this time of the year is tough. We have a few things. After Brno, we’re testing in Misano, where we can try some stuff. To do big steps during the season is tough, but I do think Mugello was clearly our best result — well, not the result but the race was the best race of the year. So, yeah, it’s tough, but sure, I think we can do better than sixth place.
MODERATOR: Are you going to miss Valentino again? You’ve been teammates twice now, and you’ve seen him depart.
HAYDEN: Yeah. Truthfully, yeah. We’ve had a good relationship. I’m not like going to be in tears over it, you know, and just — but, yeah, I mean, you know, as great as it would have been to see Vale at the front on the Ducati, it just hasn’t at the moment happened. So, you know, move on and see who my new teammate will be. But I enjoyed being teammates with him.
Sure, we had some — I don’t know about a lot of good times, but I enjoyed being teammates with him and definitely somebody I respect a lot. It’s good to see him back staying in MotoGP and with the new challenge. And, you know, as good as it would have been for the sport him winning on the Ducati, him at the front on anything I think we’ll all benefit from.
MODERATOR: Nicky, thanks very much indeed. We come to the left of Jorge Lorenzo. Of course, Stefan Bradl, ladies and gentlemen, riding the LCR Honda. Joint sixth in the World Championship. Every time you come up here, we say it’s been a fantastic start to the season for you, and we’re just over halfway now.
STEFAN BRADL: It’s not so bad. I mean, it’s not fantastic. Fantastic would be to be on the podium every race. But we can be happy. I’m happy so far. We are doing good; we are improving every time. So far we have been not doing so much mistakes, which is important for the first season, I think, to learn as much as I can. And, yeah, we were very close to the podium in Mugello, which I could enjoy a lot. The last race in Laguna was not really easy for me because learning the track and so on. But, yeah, I think all the team and we can be happy. And hopefully we can do the next step, especially to the first three guys there. They’re still a little bit too fast for us.
MODERATOR: You say Laguna was your first race, you’ve been on the podium here in the 125cc race and, of course, ridden here Moto2, also. So at least you come here knowing the track.
BRADL: Yes, I know the track, but I’m a little bit worried — I’m looking forward for tomorrow. I think they changed asphalt in last season, which was not a disaster but really bad. And this season I still don’t know how is the situation, but hopefully it will be better compared to last year. It’s an OK track for me. It’s not really — I can enjoy riding here, but it’s not one of my favorite ones, but it’s OK.
MODERATOR: And you said about the last eight races pushing towards the podium, it is hard, isn’t it? They call them the aliens, don’t they, those three. To get in amongst them is going to be very, very difficult.
BRADL: Yes. I mean, they are doing especially in the race every single lap they are quite close to the limit and so precise. This is the biggest difference to what I know from Moto2. Sure the competition is high, but these guys pushing theirselves so fast and so hard. Yeah, this is what I still need to improve, but I think I’m on a good way to do that.
MODERATOR: I think we all agree. Thanks very much, Stefan.
We come to the Stefan’s left, ladies and gentlemen, Valentino Rossi. Valentino, you kept your promise. You said at Laguna you would tell us what was going to happen. We’ve read all the announcements, and you will be joining a new team next season.
VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes. After Laguna and the summer break, I have enough time for to think more deeply to my future. You know, this is a great pity for me and Ducati and for all of our fans, but especially for all the guys that work with me at this project because I want to try to be competitive. Italian rider with Italian bike, but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. These two seasons are very difficult, and we struggling very much. Unfortunately, we were not able to improve our speed, our performance, and to fight for the good position, for the front position.
So I decide for this that it is enough and my choice is because I try to understand which is the best bike, the more competitive bike for the next two years that maybe at the end of my career or, you know, but anyway, the last part, and this is the choice. It’s a great pity. I’m very sad, also, because I in Ducati find a lot of good people. We had great times together. We try the maximum, but unfortunately we were not able to achieve the result. So this is what makes the difference.
MODERATOR: Eight races to go with Ducati, and I’m sure, as always, you will be there with it.
ROSSI: Yes, are very important because unfortunately we have to speak about the next year very early in the season. But we still have eight races. And now is an important moment because first, this track for me, is always — I was able to win in 2008, but it is a difficult track for me. Last year was very bad. So we have to keep the concentration of me with my team and try to make the maximum.
And after is an important period because Brno is a good track, and after Brno we will have some important tests in Misano, and we have to try to improve the bike to improve our pace for the rest of the races because, anyway, eight races is a long way.
MODERATOR: And you rejoined Jorge next year, which will be interesting, I would imagine.
ROSSI: Yeah, will be interesting. Now the situation change a lot compared to the past, compared to 2008 when Jorge arrive to Yamaha. Now he’s the No. 1 in the team, and our relationship are good. I have respect for him, and he have respect for me. So I think we can stay together. I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha, for try to achieve good result in the next seasons.
MODERATOR: Valentino, thanks very much indeed. Thank you, all.
Questions from the floor, ladies and gentlemen. If you put your hands up, I think the microphones will arrive.
Q: Valentino, last year in Assen you were saying that the big problem of Ducati was Casey, that he was able to ride the bike perfectly, but he has never given the input to make step forward. After these two years, is the situation that original sin was the fact that Casey was never able to work on the setup and development of the bike or what?
ROSSI: I never say this. I just say that for Ducati the problem — well, the positive problem was that Stoner was very fast with that bike and was also problem for us for to make the decision at the end of 2010. But, you know, the reality is that I was never fast with that bike from the first test to now. And unfortunately together with Ducati we were not able to improve the bike and to fix the problem that the bike have.
MODERATOR: Anybody else?
Q: Vale, you said you would put everything in a balance and you would make a decision. Which has been the reasons have made you decide for Yamaha?
ROSSI: I had some different options, and I tried to choose the best bike for me for the next two seasons and just this for the rest — the rest of the contract is not a problem. I’m happy about the contract for the next two seasons. I know that I can be stronger with the M1 and especially can enjoy because, you know, the next two seasons for me will be hard, especially try to stay with Jorge, also to beat Jorge, because now he’s very, very fast. But I need a bike for enjoy. At this moment of my career I have to enjoy, I have to try to fight and to arrive happy at the racetrack.
Q: Casey, it’s your last race in America. You’ve had amazing success here, and you’ve made lot of friendships with a lot of younger American riders. Your thoughts on being your last race in the U.S.A.?
STONER: Yeah, to be honest, it’s a little bit disappointing to not be racing here anymore. The country and everything that I have enjoyed so much time here. I enjoy the people; the atmosphere is everything. I feel like home here, and I spend as much time as I can in the U.S. every year. But I will be coming back to visit, definitely. This is one, you know, in my opinion one of the best countries in the world. I really enjoy every aspect of it. So it won’t be my last time here.
But as far as racing goes, yes. I voiced my opinions with this circuit that it’s not one of my favorite. Laguna is. I enjoy that track. But this track is a little bit tricky, and if we’re able to use the oval, maybe it would be something special, but unfortunately we don’t. So it’s going to be farewell to a lot of places but, you know, there’s always the opportunity to come back and ride it again.
Q: You’ve befriended some younger American riders, J.D. Beach, Cameron (Beaubier), others. Where are these guys going to sleep now when you’re not there?
STONER: I guess they’ll have to make it their own way. If we can and we’ve got the opportunity, then maybe we can help. But we were there for them when it was difficult for them. They’re traveling around the world at a very young age by themselves and didn’t really know what was what and which direction. I found their attitudes were good, and we gave them a hand. But they seem to be taking their careers a step forward, especially recently. It would be nice to see them succeed.
Q: Valentino, you will take all your crew with you? And from what I understood, you said that it could be your last two years in MotoGP but maybe not bike racing. Does that mean that you will race for Superbike for Yamaha in the future like I heard somewhere?
ROSSI: So I think my crew come with me. More or less the same guys that come with me from Yamaha to Ducati. But is still not decided 100 percent. I think we have to fix some of the ties.
And about my future will depends a lot from the result of the next two seasons. Because I want to remain more than two seasons in MotoGP but depends how much I’m strong and I’m fast with the M1. And to have the opportunity for the future for Superbike, yeah, I always say. But it’s very early to say, because I hope to be faster, to be competitive, to enjoy and remain in MotoGP more than two season.
Q: Do you still believe that you could get a world title or will you be happy to just win some races next year?
ROSSI: For sure, the world title is a dream. But in my condition now, especially you have to understand if I’m still a top rider, if I’m still fast, and if I can fight for the front row, if I can still fight for the podium. I don’t know, because after two seasons like this, nobody knows. So before I speak about the championship, I have to understand if I can fight from the front row, I can fight for the podium. And after, we will see.
Q: What did you ask to Yamaha?
Q: What did you ask to Yamaha?
Q: Which condition did you ask?
ROSSI: About what?
Q: To come back there. Did you ask something special?
ROSSI: I have always great relationship with Yamaha, also, after I change bike because what’s happened between me and Yamaha was something special. But I trust them 100 percent in Yamaha for next season. So I know that Yamaha will give to me the right bike, the right material. You know, being with Jorge at this moment when he ride very strong and fantastic way, the M1 is difficult. But, you know, I have to try the bike at the end of the season, try to understand the growing up and try to understand if I can be fast like in the past. But, you know, we have to wait the result of the track, like always.
Q: Did you ask to keep a wall between you —
ROSSI: No, no, nothing. We will be very close with Jorge if he agrees. (Laughter)
For me, no problem.
LORENZO: No problem, no problem.
Q: Valentino, Casey has said this week, described a humbling experience for you. Has this been humbling, this a disappointing time —
STONER: I want to clarify that. That was a lot of context taken out. It was the whole last year and a half. I never did interview and never said anything like that last week. I still stand by what I said, but it’s been over the last year and a half that it was put together.
Q: OK. So has this been a humbling experience for you?
ROSSI: I don’t know what’s been humbling? Oh, I cannot say no. I mean, you can use which word you prefer. I mean it was very, very difficult, is very difficult. It’s not true that we don’t try, we try the maximum. But we were never able to be — I was never able to be fast with the Ducati, and this is a great, great pity, a very bad thing, especially for me and for my team.
Q: One for Casey and one for Jorge. Casey, you said that you’ve thought about coming back, and you said no, no way. But have you ever thought, have you ever passed through your mind that you could come back with Ducati and win again?
STONER: No, Honda has been extremely good to me. I said my decisions aren’t made because of what manufacturers or what dreams I want to go and do. My decisions have been made for real life, real world. You know, I want to continue my life in a different way.
Q: Yeah, but have you felt inside you could go back to Ducati and make it win?
Q: OK. And for Jorge, you must feel really strong having Valentino with you, and you say he’s very welcome to Yamaha with you, no wars, or anything? Are you going to help him as he did with you when you came to Yamaha?
LORENZO: Well, I don’t have any problem with anybody. I like to be, to have a good relationship with everybody in the paddock. I have a lot of respect for Valentino. So maybe if he asked me for some favor, I will give him.
Q: But if he starts winning, will you put up the wall?
LORENZO: I always say the wall is a stupid thing. It doesn’t make sense for anything. No wall is OK for me and I think for Vale this time.
Q: Jorge, when you have signed for Yamaha, did you know the possibility of Valentino come back to Yamaha or not?
Q: Jorge, you said that you have no possibility to choose your teammate. But do you have any priority in the technical development of the bike for the future or you will — you have to fight on track to get this leadership?
LORENZO: To be honest, I really think if I negotiate in the contract, if I say not to sign some rider, I will have him. But anyway, I never cared about my teammate, I will not care in the future. For me it is a pleasure to be again with Valentino, two more years with the same bike. So for me, everything is positive.
Q: Also, for the technical point of view?
LORENZO: Yamaha never have No. 1 rider given the best performance bike or the best pieces, no. So it will never be different, I think.
Q: Casey, are you surprised that Valentino decided to go back to Yamaha?
STONER: No. I think, you know, after two years like this it must be difficult, must be a little bit embarrassing. He needs to understand if he’s competitive again. So going with a bike that he knows he was last fast with and maybe the only opportunity for a different manufacturer on a factory bike. So I think, you know, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next year. But, no, not — it’s not a strange decision after two seasons like this; it’s got to be difficult. So it’s better to try and be competitive again on something which you know he’s competitive.
Q: Jorge, next year you will miss Casey, obviously. To try to beat Valentino, will it be your new challenge?
LORENZO: No, to be honest, I would like Casey to come back to Ducati. It would be kind of funny for sure.
But I don’t think this is possible. So, yeah, maybe one of my challenges will be again to beat Valentino, but it’s not the main one. The main one is to again be World Champion this year and the next two years.
MODERATOR: Anybody else?
Q: Question to Valentino and Nicky. Looks like Dovizioso is going to be the new Ducati rider. How do you think his chances will be? Even Casey perhaps that’s been riding the bike, what he thinks he could do.
ROSSI: I think that to have the opportunity in the future that the situation, things change a lot in Ducati, especially because Audi arrive and give a lot of money but especially a lot of experience, a lot of technical help. So a great, good luck to Dovizioso with the Ducati. If he will drive the Ducati, and especially to Ducati good luck to achieve better results than these two seasons.
HAYDEN: Yeah, if it’s Dovi, I think he’s probably the best choice out there. He’s got good experience coming from me. I’m happy. Spent years at Honda, then now Yamaha, and now come there. I think his experience can be beneficial to our engineers. How he’ll go on the Ducati, we’ll have to wait and see. Of course, I think one of the good things, Dovi doesn’t make a lot of mistakes when he rides. He’s pretty precise, and that’s important. Because if you make a lot of mistakes on the Japanese bike, when you get on the Ducati, that’s just double.
Well, maybe not double, but is more. So, yeah, hopefully he can bring some knowledge and help us be a good bike if he does come. And I look forward to having a strong teammate. Was there another question?
Q: I asked Casey.
STONER: No idea. People have been saying for years one rider’s style is similar to another rider’s style and suit the Ducati. But I think it’s nothing to do with style. It’s pride, personally. However you think a bike should be ridden, you basically have to ride it how it wants to be ridden. You know, you can go to other manufacturers and say that’s how I did it here and it worked, and why isn’t it working there? But I think it’s just about pride, and you need to give that up and ride it the way it needs to be.
Q: Vale, you explained the decision is not about money and you choose Yamaha. How much money are you losing because of your decision? (Laughter)
LORENZO: You want the exact amount? (Laughter)
It’s a big calculation. (Laughter)
Q: Vale, you tell us before that now Jorge is the main Yamaha rider and do you think you are going to be able, do you hope you are going to be at his level now? After these two years yourself, do you think watching them on the track that the Yamaha could give you what you missed on the Ducati and to be faster just from the right moment?
ROSSI: This is a good question. So looking in the track now is not enough, the Yamaha, because the difference is so big. No, apart from the joke, I mean in the last seasons, Jorge has become more strong than when I was with him in Yamaha — oh, in 2010 he was very strong. And he ride the M1 at an incredible level without do any mistake. So for me it’s a question mark for me, I don’t know.
And also because, you know, in the last seasons I think mainly three riders make the difference, him and Dani and Stoner. I was with them until 2010, so I consider — I was considering a top rider.
But after these two seasons, no, I don’t know. So I have to try another time the bike. After the last race, but after I have to work very much on me and together with my team for go at the maximum and try to understand my level now with the M1.
Q: Valentino, again talking about money. The rumor says that you will carry a lot of money to Yamaha. Can you confirm or not? And then you also someone says could be two different, separate teams with different color. Also this could be an option?
ROSSI: These are just bullshit. I don’t know why I have to bring money to race with Yamaha. I am happy about my contract, and my contract is fixed. So I hope that Yamaha can find a good sponsor for next year. I think speak with some other guys and — yes, it’s true speak with Monster but already before I arrive. And the team will not be separate, for sure.
I don’t know if maybe have one bike one sponsor, the other bike a little bit different, but I think no. I think will be all the same.
Q: Jorge, has another energetic drink?
ROSSI: Yeah, yeah, this is possible. But seriously, I don’t know because my contract is closed. It’s no difference for me if arrive with sponsor or I have to bring some sponsor. This is not true.
MODERATOR: OK, just one more and that’s it. This will be the last one. Thank you.
Q: Once again for you, Valentino. Over these two years, how have they changed yourself, not as a rider but as a man?
ROSSI: I don’t know. A lot of people say that in the difficult moment, in the bad moment people become stronger, so I hope. Because I, for sure, was very difficult from the beginning. So is long time that I am here to fight, unfortunately not to win, but I enjoy to ride, and unfortunately we are not able to create the perfect match between me and Ducati. And this has become very, very difficult. Also because for sure all the other guys are very strong.
But for about me, myself, for me it doesn’t change a lot.
MODERATOR: OK. Thank you to all the riders. That was an excellent press conference. If we could just stand for the photographs, please. Can everybody just sit down? We’ll just do the photograph and then we’ll be off. Thank you.