Following a month-long summer break, the second half of the 2015 MotoGP Championship officially got underway Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Seven riders were present during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP press conference: the current points leader Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone, Bradley Smith, Stefan Bradl and, of course, the sole American in all of Grand Prix motorcycle racing – Nicky Hayden.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi was the first to begin at the 2015 Indianapolis MotoGP conference. The nine-time World Champion has 179 points, and hasn’t lost the lead since winning the opening round at Qatar. Since then he finished on the podium at every race, including further wins in Argentina and the Netherlands.Rossi, who has never lost a championship after leading the opening nine races, won the debut Indianapolis MotoGP round in 2008 (Yamaha). But his luck changed there, and he only earned one other podium since.“It will be very difficult now and all the races will be very difficult with all the riders very, very fast. We are here and will try to be ready, this track is not one of my favorites but last year was a good race and I enjoyed a lot,” Rossi says.VR46 also spoke about the Honda RC213V’s dominance at Indy; it has won the last five races there: “Yes usually in the past this track is a bit better for Honda, especially for Marc. Dani has also won in the past and has been very strong here. Marc has won twice in a row and last year we were happy with two M1s on the podium, not too far behind. It’s another season and every weekend is a new story and we have to push hard.”Rossi’s lead is slim, though; trailing only 13 points behind is teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the #99 YZR-M1. Lorenzo also won at Indy back in 2009, and has another six podiums there. He speculates that the new Yamaha YZR-M1 changes may help with success at Indy.“Last year I think the modifications they made to the track made life easier for Yamaha riders as the track is more flowing and less slow, the chicane flows more and is faster which is better for us,” Lorenzo says.The top Ducati Team rider, Andrea Iannone, is third in the point standings, 61 points behind Rossi with nine rounds remaining. The 25-year-old Italian injured his shoulder at Mugello, and is still not 100 percent. But he thinks his GP15 will perform better than last year’s Desmosedici GP14.“This track is good but not easy. It has a lot of braking points and so it’s not my favorite. I think for the GP15 it’s a good track, with the GP14 it wasn’t so bad and this bike is even better. I will try my best with my team,” Iannone says.Fourth in points is the master of America MotoGP, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. The two-time reigning MotoGP Champion has won every US round he has raced at since joining the premier class in 2013, including all victories at Indy, Circuit of the Americas and Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway.As he chases a third-consecutive title, he trails Rossi by 65 points. The 22-year-old Spaniard struggled a bit in the opening rounds while on the 2015 RC213V chassis, but switched back at Assen, where he finished second. He followed this up with a win at Sachsenring before MotoGP went on summer break.“Yeah of course 65 points is a lot for the first part of the season, but maybe they can lose in the second part! I know it’s not easy and it’s a big difference but of course we will try to focus like the last two races and try to push at the limit and see what happens,” Marquez says.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradly Smith is the top satellite pilot, and he is fully charged after helping the Yamaha Racing team win the Suzuka 8 Hours last weekend aboard the YZF-R1.“It was a nice way to spend the summer break two weeks in Japan and to bring home the Suzuka 8 hour victory for Yamaha and the new R1,” Smith says. He also commented on returning to MotoGP over the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race: “The pleasure will be not having the traffic, 70 riders on track is a lot! Like I’ve said before the R1 and M1 feel very similar so in terms of jumping back on the bike here it shouldn’t be so bad.”A huge story ahead of Indy was Stefan Bradl’s switch to the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP due to a vacancy after Marco Melandri split with the team. Bradl is coming off of injury; he broke his schaphoid at the Dutch TT, and was forced to miss his home round in Germany. But he is full recovered and ready for the new Aprilia challenge.“I’m really happy we were able to do this as it was not an easy time for me in the last three weeks. I was still recovering from the scaphoid so I was sitting on the computer a lot, answering emails and waiting for replies. I’m really pleased Aprilia are giving me this chance to finish the season and help develop it,” Bradl says.Last to talk was Aspar MotoGP’s Nicky Hayden, the Kentuckian who grew up 200 miles away from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is currently 21st in points with 8, but is ready to entertain the home fans: “Indy really is a special place with a lot of history. They made a lot of changes, I didn’t get to try them last year but the riders seem to enjoy them a lot. I look forward to trying it tomorrow.”The 25-rider grid will begin the opening practice sessions at 9 a.m. CT Friday.Photos by Ara Ashjian
2015 Indianapolis MotoGP Press Conference Photo Gallery
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!