Great Venue, Not So Great Track

Henny Ray Abrams | September 11, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT 11: The MotoGP community expressed near unanimous admiration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex, but there was also near unanimity that the layout itself was very much a work in progress.

Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi was one of the many riders who voiced concern about the safety of the 16-turn, 2.621-mile IMS MotoGP layout.

Capirossi, a member of the rider safety commission, spoke about his concerns on Thursday, prior to the first day of practice. His impression was based on a firsthand look and the word of teammate-for-the-weekend Ben Spies, who tested here in July. At the time, Spies said parts of the track were too tight and that the surface in the early corners was an issue.

“Yeah, well I’m thinking I say it’s pretty interesting for us to ride here, but this track is basically for car and we try to modify for motorcycle and in that moment is not 100% safe,” Capirossi, who recently re-signed with Rizla Suzuki, said. “We have to modify something else. We can make already this morning a couple laps with the safety commission for check and we change a little bit the position of the air fence. We ask to change a little bit the curve. Anyway, we will see tomorrow.

“But anyway, the problem is we expect two days of rain, maybe three days. It’s really hard because I think when we have a lot of rain, my impression is it’s really difficult to ride because we have a lot of water on the track, because the track is a little bit strange and they have many lakes.”

There are also a number of different types of asphalt-as many as four some riders believe-which is another concern of Capirossi’s.

“The problem is the first part,” Capirossi said. “When I spoke with Ben (Spies), he said it’s like rain condition on the dry. I don’t know on the rain. And the second part is not too bad. The last one is like really good. But also the first part is new and really right.”

Spies was also concerned with a wall in turn five, the left coming off the south end of the oval. Capirossi agreed.

“It’s really close,” he said. “We’re talking also about that, but we don’t move one wall in one night. I think the most important is to ride the bike, to feel on the bike. Because when you are out it’s really difficult to really feel. On the bike we can check tomorrow.”

The question that no one could answer is how did this happen? The rider safety commission had been apprised of the changes and both the FIM and IRTA safety officers attended the July test. It was suggested that one of the riders on the safety commission should have visited the Speedway.

“Maybe it’s better to come early to check,” Capirossi said, “but here, Nicky (Hayden) coming before and he’s saying it’s not too bad, there’s just some points. But we have to understand and to maybe to come before to check again.” Hayden made a publicity appearance at the track aboard a Honda CBR1000RR, but he wasn’t overly critical of the safety. He did say the run-off in turn one would be a problem in the wet and expressed a few other concerns that are consistent with what the riders saw today. And Capirossi admitted that looking at drawings couldn’t compare to a firsthand look.

“No, well, the problem is we just see that track on the paper,” he said. We never see by live. On the paper it looks like not too bad, but when you see from live it’s different. Always we say, we change a lot in the past and also I think we change a lot in the future, but here we don’t have enough time to really discuss about that, but we can understand tomorrow and especially for next year.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.