Spies Fast on Slippery Surface at Red Bull Indianapolis GP

Henny Ray Abrams | August 26, 2011


Americans dominated the opening practice for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on a partially repaved Indianapolis Motor Speedway that was heavily criticized by the riders as being both slippery and abrasive.Yamaha’s Ben Spies was fastest, but with a time that was more than three seconds slower than the previous race record. Spies’ time was 1:43.260 compared to the 1:40.152  lap set by teammate Jorge Lorenzo in 2009.The difference, Spies said, was the grip, or lack thereof. The infield, from turn five to the end of the lap, was repaved after complaints that it was too bumpy. The bumps were removed, but the surface proved unacceptable to the riders. A preview of the problems came during last week’s test of the Vance & Hines XR1200 riders. Those riders had similar sentiments – no grip, heavy tire wear – but it was thought that with some rubber being laid down the conditions would improve. The surface may improve, but not immediately, and a session was lost.

“Yeah, it’s bad,” Spies said. “I mean, it feels like kinda being at Qatar when the little desert storm comes through at night and riding the next day. I can say it’s 100 times smoother and they did an awesome job with that, but it just needs a lot of rubber down. I think it’s just going to be kinda who can guess with set-ups with how much trip is going to come in the next sessions, because it’s going to improve quite significant. How much? I don’t know. But lap times could get really fast here if the rubber gets lay down and grip is like it is in turns one through four. But once we get out of turn four for the rest of the track, it’s really, I mean you gotta be careful. But we kinda knew that was going to be the case. But like I said, they did a good job getting all the bumps out, but we just need to keep getting rubber down and it looks like with the weather we, hopefully, won’t get any rain, so we’ll be able to do that.”Spies’ time on his 17th of 18 laps and was .292 secs. faster than that of Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was third (1:43.574) and .008 of a second in front of San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli. Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was fifth fastest at 1:44.236 mins., putting three Americans in the top five for the first time this season. Hayden had ridden a Ducati 1198R on the track last week as part of a promotional appearance.Despite the conditions, Spies believed the riders could make up the three seconds they were lacking.”Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure,” he said. “The way you can go through turn one to four to how you come out of turn five on is considerably slower. Turn five on is like you’re riding in the rain. And turn one through four you can really rip, so it’s, yeah, it’s hard.”And it’s hard to get real heat in the tires and keep it in there because you go so long down the front straightaway after going so slow in the rest of the lap. It was tricky this morning, but this morning wasn’t really a true sign of what’s going to happen this weekend. We were just kinda getting everything going and trying to get some rubber down.”Friday Morning MotoGP Practice:1. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:43.260

2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:43.552 1

3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:43.574 21

4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:43.582

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:44.236

6. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:44.362

7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:44.551

8. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:45.026

9. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:45.065

10. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:45.192


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.