Photography by Larry Lawrence
American wildcard riders Blake Young and James Rispoli tested Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the upcoming Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on Aug. 16-18 at IMS.
Young was hampered by issues that cropped up with the Attack Performance Racing machine and consequently wasn’t able to get down to the lap times he’d hoped. His best were in the low 1:48s.
Moto2 wildcard Rispoli actually did better than his GPTech team expected. Racing a Tech3 Racing Mistral 610 with a stock Honda CBR600RR engine, a standard clutch and U.S.-spec Dunlop tires, Rispoli dipped down into the low 1:49s late in the day.
Two-time AMA Superbike runner-up Young, from Madison, Wis., is making his third wild-card appearance of the year in the premier MotoGP category for California-based Attack Performance. Two-time AMA SuperSport champion Rispoli, from Daytona Beach, Fla., will make his World Championship debut in Moto2 for Michigan-based GPTech.
Young is coming back on the Attack Performance Racing CRT MotoGP machine for the first time after suffering a vicious highside at Laguna Seca last month that kept him out of the second American round of MotoGP. Earlier in the season Young, 25, finished 21st in April for Attack at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Attack’s Richard Stanboli said it took a week and a half to put the APR back together and required welding a new steering head onto the frame.
“We were fortunate to find an American source for the material we use for the frame,” Stanboli said. “It’s high-tech aerospace stuff that we got from Germany originally. If we hadn’t found a new source for it here in the States we wouldn’t have made this race.”
The end result is the Attack bike looks brand new with no indication that it suffered such a hard crash only a couple of weeks ago. And the bike has an improved steering head, something Stanboli wanted to upgrade eventually. The crash hastened the change.
Young seemed a bit disappointed with the test.
“It was a kind of a short test,” he said. “We didn’t get as much time as we really wanted. It could have gone a little bit better. We had a little mechanical issue today that took a lot of the time up for the test.
“We had a little bit of rain at the beginning of the day, but sun ended up coming out and drying up the track and it ended up a pretty good day. I’m pretty happy with the bike and the way we ended up. We learned a few things. It could have been a little more productive test than it was but we’ll take what we can get at this point.”
Young has been to IMS before in conjunction with the Kevin Schwantz School, but today marked his first trip to The Brickyard as a competitor.
He said his goals are modest for Indy.
“So far the two races we’ve had with this bike have gone pretty bad,” Young said. “I mean finishing 21st and crashing in the second practice at Laguna… with this thing I just want to get up there and mix it up with the other CRT guys, finish the race, and give these guys the good result that they deserve. Richard and the whole team have put in a lot of hard work and it needs to show on the racetrack, so I need to come forth and give them a good result.”
Rispoli’s GPTech effort went trouble free and he was able to get in a valuable 76 laps on the day. He’d also tested the Tech3 Racing Mistral 610 earlier in the week at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan. The bike appeared to have minor crash damage from that previous test. This was the first time on the IMS MotoGP road course for Rispoli.
“The first session I was in awe really,” Rispoli said of racing at the historic Speedway for the first time. “It’s so flat it’s really hard to find some reference marks through here. It’s almost so flat you can’t see the next corner even though it’s flat. It’s weird.
“We worked really hard. The biggest thing was track time. The track was really dirty so it was hard to get a good feeling out of the front, but towards the end of the day we were able to push the bike a lot harder and it seemed to come in and feel a lot better when it’s ridden hard.”
GPTech finished ninth in the Moto2 race at Indy in 2010 with Jason DiSalvo and 31st in 2011 with Jake Gagne, and 16th last year in MotoGP with Aaron Yates. But Rispoli, 22, will face a variety of challenges as he enters RBIGP weekend.
"It's going to be tough," Rispoli said. "We're going to race against the best guys in the world, and it's a motorcycle I've never seen before. It's also a track I've never seen, so thankfully we have this test so we can get further up with speed and see if we can get on the back of these guys.
"I think the first free practice is going to be kind of like, 'Oh, wow.' But I'm going into it wanting to get on the back of them, and let's learn as much as we can and get the most experience that I can. I don't really know what to expect with the first time racing at the highest level of our sport, and I thank everyone at GPTech for getting me in front and showcasing my talent."
Although Rispoli faces many questions entering the Moto2 race Aug. 18 at IMS, he already knows his strategy when the lights go out to start the race.
"Right from the get-go, I'm going to sharpen my elbows and be ready to go," Rispoli said. "It's a fight in the back, and it's a scrap. And I'm here to scrap, and I'm ready to make as many passes as I can in the first couple laps. As soon as it goes green, I'm firing out."
The sixth annual MotoGP race at IMS on Sunday, Aug. 18 once again will feature the world's best motorcycle racers, including superstars Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa who will race against American standouts Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards aboard prototype motorcycles from Ducati, Honda and Yamaha on the 16-turn, 2.621-mile IMS road course.
The RBIGP race weekend will also include competition in the Moto2 (600cc) and Moto3 (250cc) World Championship classes featuring riders from around the world. The distinctive rumble of American V-Twin thunder also will be heard and felt for the third consecutive year on track at IMS, as the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series returns with races on Saturday, Aug. 17 and Sunday, Aug. 18.
In addition, electric-powered race motorcycles capable of reaching speeds of 170 mph will compete for the first time at IMS in a round of the FIM eRoadRacing series featuring teams from across America.