Rossi’s First Impression

Henny Ray Abrams | September 12, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT 12: Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi had mixed feelings after his initial ride on in Friday’s first wet practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2.621-mile, 16-turn layout was more fun than he’d imagined, but the safety margins needed to be improved. And if the rain was much heavier than it had been this morning, it would make it difficult to race.

“The track is not so bad,” the world championship leader said after setting the 11th best time, 1.761 secs. off Anthony West’s benchmark. “The first impression is quite good. I say to the Italian (journalists) that some places are similar to Rio, to the Rio Grand Prix, to the Rio circuit. Have some points very technical, with some difficult corners in a row, where it’s very technical to ride the bike and understand the right line. So the first impression is quite good.

“Unfortunately, have some points quite bad with some problems. I think the worst points are the turn one, where (Casey) Stoner crashed, and turn five, from my point of view. So the point where, from the oval we cut and we go in the road course, they have to improve the track, because have four or five types of different asphalt together and it’s very difficult to understand the grip. Unfortunately, the new asphalt, the new surface is a bit worse than the old one, because don’t have very good grip.

“And another thing has some strange curbs that for me are to be modified because are quite dangerous. Because are flat with some holes in the center and if you slide in front, maybe it’s dangerous.”

Overall, Rossi said, for this year it was fine, “but for next year they have to improve a bit some points. Also the last corner a little bit, because from the road course you enter into the oval, have some different angle, some different surface, is quite difficult to control the bike. But for the next year we have to improve, but for me is a quite good track.”

Rossi said in the steady rain they’re at the limit on grip, but they could race. “We have to see if it rains very, very much, but is like the other tracks, like Donington or like Misano last year on Friday or like Malaysia 2006. So with a lot of rain, for sure is dangerous. But the first impression is not bad. The layout is quite good. The run-off area is not so bad. Turn one, turn five, maybe at the limit, but quite good. So first impression is not so bad.”

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.