Pedrosa Starts Strong At Wet Indy

Paul Carruthers | August 28, 2009

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa started the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix the same way he ended the Red Bull United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. At the top. Unfortunately, the Indy GP started the same way it ended last year. Wet.But it was Pedrosa who made the most of the wet conditions, the Spaniard starting quickly in what he hopes to turn into a sweep of the two U.S Grands Prix in 2009. Pedrosa shared the top spot at times during the one-hour session with his teammate Andrea Dovizioso with the Italian taking sitting atop the time sheets for the first 20 minutes or so. He would end up fading to ninth, however, by the end of the session with Pedrosa taking over at the top and staying there by posting a best of 1:51.507 – a mark that would hold up.”This was a very good start to the weekend and in wet conditions we are looking in good shape,” Pedrosa said. “It was raining for the whole session and we had good grip, even though there were some big patches of standing water around the track. I felt confident and was able to push hard – and actually it’s been a quite long time since I’ve felt that confident in wet conditions and been happy to push to the maximum. If it’s dry tomorrow, that’s also good for us, even though the only thing we can really take forward from today’s session is the gearing information. This track is unusual to ride because it’s been designed to run in the other direction and so the apex of some of the corners feels very strange. Still, even in the rain there is a unique atmosphere here and it’s a special place to ride.”Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden started his home Grand Prix in a good frame of mind after ending the session second fastest in what has been a difficult debut season on the Italian bike. Hayden clocked a 1:51.662 to put the Ducati ahead of World Championship points leader Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha. Rossi ended up third, one spot better than his teammate and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo.”It feels good to be near the top again,” Hayden said. “The bike felt pretty good from the beginning and after trying something new on the other bike, which didn’t work, we went back to the standard setting and went from there. The track was really tricky because there were sections with a lot of standing water and others where the grip was amazing – you had to be really on your toes. Midway through the session a funny line formed – I’m not sure if some kind of chemical came up through the asphalt from when they cleaned it but it was pretty slick. Over the last couple of laps I just went for it because I knew I had a chance to be on top today and this is the highest I’ve been in any session this year. Truthfully though I need dry track time because I tend to start the weekend slowly and build up, so to lose a session to the weather is not an advantage to me. We need to start out strong in the morning and go from there. P1 would have been sweet but P2 at just a tenth of a second off gives us reason to smile. I’m delighted to be racing here at Indy so let’s hope tomorrow brings more joy!”Rossi was right behind Hayden, despite sitting out the early part of the session.”I sat out the first twenty minutes in order to save the engine mileage and by the time I went out it was very wet,” Rossi said. “Unfortunately the track wasn’t draining so well where there is new asphalt and in some corners it was quite dangerous with standing water and a risk of aquaplaning. This weather was unlucky but it wasn’t such a bad session and our pace and setting in the wet was quite good. We were able to improve the balance of the bike and if the conditions are like this again then we have some ideas to improve further. Luckily however it looks like the weather will be much better and so tomorrow we will start again from zero in the dry!”After Rossi came Lorenzo with Alex de Angelis next, followed by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi – who just signed up for another year with the team – and Colin Edwards. Dovizioso and Team Hayate’s Marco Melandri rounded out the top 10 on the opening day at Indy.

First Practice

1.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:51.507

2.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:51.662

3.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:51.814

4.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:51.894

5.                  Alex DeAngelis (Honda) 1:52.264

6.                  James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:52.888

7.                  Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:52.928

8.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:53.128

9.                  Andrea Doviziso (Honda) 1:53.151

10.                  Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:53.590

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.