Rossi Has Room to Improve at Indy GP

Henny Ray Abrams | August 26, 2011


Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi was worried about the recently repaved infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following a slick and dirty morning practice session, but his fears were somewhat allayed in the afternoon when the track offered greater grip, though at the cost of tire life.The morning session was universally derided in various terms by a number of top riders. It was called dangerous and disappointing, which the lap times certainly were. The times were about 3.5 secs. off the lap record pace, an enormous gap when it’s expected the times will be faster one year to the next. Maybe not in the first session, but certainly by the end of the weekend. And that will almost certainly be the case here at “The Brickyard.”The circuit record lap, set by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo during the 2009 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, is 1:40.152 mins.

The fastest time in the morning was 1:43.260 mins., set by Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Spies predicted the circuit record lap would fall and his prediction is almost certain to come true. Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner set a fast lap of 1:40.724 mins. late in the afternoon session. He might have been even faster had he not run into problems late in the session. Still, finding .6 secs. on a track that continues to improve won’t be a problem for the world championship leader.Rossi, also, wasn’t worried that his times would fall, even though he finished the first day 11th fastest, third Ducati, and 1.681 secs. off Stoner’s pace.”I’m very happy about the work on the track, although this morning I was worried,” Rossi said. “The problem is that no one uses the track. It was very dirty this morning, like riding in the wet. But this afternoon the step was massive and you could have some normal grip. This is a sign the asphalt is OK and it is just the dirt, so it should be even better on Sunday. They made a good job for the bumps.”But the track isn’t completely unforgiving. The racing line is narrow enough that “If you get off line you are in the s–t; it is like rain.

“The new asphalt was damaging the tires, Rossi said, adding that the hard rear wasn’t an option.”I tried just the hard on the front,” he said. “The hard on the rear, no way. I said to Bridgestone in Mugello to modify the allocation for Indianapolis because the rubber we have on the hard tire is completely useless. But they didn’t modify so, we have to manage just five-six tires for all the weekend.”Rossi and his team made a mistake with his motorcycle’s settings in the afternoon and had to wait for the track condition to improve. The front end wasn’t loading, Rossi said, and he didn’t have any grip on braking or corner entry. “I am very slow. We will modify for tomorrow.”But he added that Hayden was “not so bad, so looks like our two bikes made a step and tomorrow I will try a more normal setting.”



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.