2014 Indy MotoGP Preview
Following a three-week summer break, the 2014 MotoGP Championship resumes this weekend at a revised Indianapolis Motor Speedway for round 10 of 18.
The grid will experience some modifications at IMS, which was redesigned to create new turn configurations, harder braking zones, and more passing opportunities.
The 16-turn circuit is now 2.591 miles compared to 2.621 in the previous editions since MotoGP competition began there in 2008. This shortness arrives from a reconfiguration of turns 3, 4, 7, 15 and 16, which are now “more uniform” with a smoother racing surface.
And as the series enters its seventh year at the famed “Brickyard” venue – the world’s largest spectator sporting facility with more than 250,000 permanent seats – one rider is in complete control – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.
The 21-year-old Spaniard arrives at Indy following one of the strongest performances in Grand Prix motorcycle racing since the 1970s. Marquez won the opening nine rounds, a feat not achieved since Giacomo Agostini in 1970 (that year, “Ago” won the opening 10 rounds).
This places him 77 points ahead of his nearest rival, teammate Dani Pedrosa. Marquez also has luck at Indy, considering he has won the last three races there, including last year’s round while a rookie en route to the title, and 2012/2011 in the Moto2 class. If you add in Marquez’s victories at the Circuit of the Americas this season and last, the RC213V pilot has won all of his last five visits to the USA for GP racing.
“It’s been a great Summer break, which has combined some important time off to recharge the batteries, and also training to ensure I’m ready for the second half of the season. I’ve had time to reflect on what an amazing first nine races we’ve had and now I’m really eager to get back on the bike in Indianapolis,” Marquez says.
“I’ve always liked the track and it will be interesting to see the changes that they’ve made, so we’ll need to pay attention from the first practice session and get back into our rhythm as quickly as possible!”
There’s no doubting he’s the favorite, but who will present the toughest challenge?
His teammate Pedrosa is one. The Spaniard, who like Marquez recently extended his contract with Repsol Honda, has finished on the podium at seven of nine rounds so far in 2014 MotoGP. Pedrosa also has two wins at Indy (2012, 2010), and finishes runner-up last season.
The other big threat will come from the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
The nine-time World Champion Rossi is the bigger threat, considering he has put in respectable finishes throughout the opening nine rounds with five podiums. Rossi currently has 141 points just seven behind Pedrosa.
As for Lorenzo, he has posted scattered results, though he finished third in Germany. The 2010 and 2012 MotoGP Champion also won at Indy (2009), and he will seek to bump from fifth to fourth in the MotoGP standings as the second half begins.
But this bump won’t come easy; in fourth is the top Desmosedici pilot, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian, who has extended his contract with Ducati through 2016, has finished on the podium twice this season, and currently has 99 points – two ahead of Lorenzo.
The same performance was not in the cards for Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow. The Brit suffered four DNFs this season, and is currently 14th overall in the standings. Crutchlow has struggled with arm pump, and went for corrective surgery following Sachsenring.
Crutchlow also terminated his contract with Ducati, and though he will finish 2014 with the Italian manufacturer, he joins the satellite LCR Honda team in 2015. As for current LCR Honda pilot, Stefan Bradl, the German Moto2 Champion (2011) will join the NGM Forward Racing team in 2015, filling the vacancy left by the retiring Colin Edwards.
Rounding out the top 10 in points are NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro – the top Open-class rider so far this season – Monster Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro, Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, who will join the factory Ducati team next season, Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.
As for the Americans, this is the retiring Colin Edwards final race on US soil, and Nicky Hayden is forced to miss Indy as he recovers from wrist surgery. Substituting for Hayden aboard the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R is the Brit Leon Camier.
2014 Indy MotoGP on TV
Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix beginning at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 10. Fox Sports 1 will also air an hour-long qualifying recap at 3 a.m. ET Sunday.
And if you’re heading there, check out our Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP Schedule of Events.
Photos by Ara Ashjian
2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after nine of 18 rounds):
|6||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||SPA||77|
|18||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||USA||8|