Rossi’s Impression

Henny Ray Abrams | September 11, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT 11: Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi hadn’t ridden the MotoGP layout of Indianapolis Motor Speedway before arriving at the famed Brickyard, but the drawings he’d seen leading up to the race didn’t fill him with optimism.

Rossi spent much of Thursday honoring commitments to the team and the series and didn’t get a chance to evaluate the track until after the pre-race press conference. He was aware of the previous Formula One layout, but the MotoGP circuit runs in the reverse direction and with an added loop early in the lap. And there are a few corners which most riders believe need work.

“Some parts are quite dangerous,” Rossi said. “For sure this is the first year so maybe it is not the perfect situation.”

The rider safety commission, of which he’s a senior member, discussed the layout several times in the run-up to the race, “because have two or three points that are strange and quite dangerous, especially on the front straight. One idea we need is to stay from the wall, maybe we don’t use the full straight but just half. Later I will speak with Franco” Uncini, the rider safety rep, “to understand.

“For me, looking only on the paper for sure this is not the best track in the world for the bikes,” he said. “There are two or three points; the hairpin and the last corner are very, very tight. We have to try with the bike, but like this on the paper for sure it is not a very funny track. We have to try with the bike and also they say there is some problem with the grip in the parts where there is a new surface.”

The 2.621-mile layout has at least three different types of asphalt, according to various riders, with varying degrees of grip. Traction was a problem in the new section early in the lap when Ben Spies tested the Rizla Suzuki in July. And grip will again be a problem if it rains, which is what the weather forecasts suggest.

“For sure if it rains it is a big problem,” Rossi said. “For sure it is better to have good weather. But we have to wait and see. This track is 100 percent one way and they have changed the direction and already the F1 drivers said in the past that it was not a very funny track, also with cars. We have to see with the bikes.”

Rossi compared IMS to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where extensive modifications were requested after the first year. “When we go to Laguna Seca for the first time it was quite a bad situation in 2005, but in 2006 it was much better.”

Like everyone, Rossi was impressed by the grandeur and history of the 99 year old facility.

“The complex is fantastic,” he said. “This place is full of history and a lot of fascination. For sure a place with 300,000 for see a race of Indy is fantastic. But we race in the garden, you know, so we have to understand if the garden is OK.”

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.