Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix: Preview – MotoGP, Moto2, 125cc
MotoGP heads back to the United States this weekend for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, at which Casey Stoner will be hoping to further turn the screw on his main title rival Jorge Lorenzo in the race for this year’s title.
Victory at Brno extended Repsol Honda rider Stoner’s lead at the top of the Championship to an intimidating 32 points and also delivered the Australian his sixth win of the campaign. At the famous Brickyard he will be aiming to secure victory at just one of three circuits on the current calendar where he has previously never won in the premier class.
For Lorenzo the emphasis will be on putting his fourth-placed finish in the Czech Republic firmly behind him, where the decision to go with the softer of the front tyre options proved costly for the Yamaha Factory Racing rider. Lorenzo has never finished off the podium in the three years that a MotoGP race has been hosted at Indianapolis, and surely nothing short of victory will be on the Spaniard’s mind – a result he achieved there in 2009. Lorenzo will also be hopeful that some engine updates tested at Brno following the GP will provide an added boost to his title defence.
Andrea Dovizioso’s consistency this season has led the Italian to third in the standings, and following second place at Brno the Repsol Honda rider will be even more determined to secure a first win of the year at a circuit he has always scored a top-five finish at but where he is yet to step onto the podium.
Valentino Rossi will hope that a full day’s testing on the Desmosedici GP11.1 at Brno last week will offer something extra going into this weekend. The Ducati Team rider closed the gap to race winner at Brno Casey Stoner to just under 13 seconds, a vast improvement to the nearer 30-second margin that had sat between the nine-time World Champion and the top of the order in the previous rounds.
A first pole position of the season at Brno for Dani Pedrosa failed to deliver a similarly inspirational result for the Repsol Honda rider as he crashed out of the race early on when in the lead. A repeat of last year’s win at Indianapolis would go some way towards making up for the frustration, as Pedrosa aims to close in on Rossi for fourth spot in the Championship.
The prospect of an eager home crowd willing him on will give Ben Spies added motivation if the Yamaha Factory Racing rider ever needed it. Like his team-mate Lorenzo he will have M1 updates at a track where last season he scored his first – and so far only – pole position. Likewise fellow American Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) would welcome a timely podium finish at a venue where he has twice stood on the rostrum, and Colin Edwards of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team will be warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic fan base.
Brno provided Marco Simoncelli with his first premier class podium and with that accomplished the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will be full of confidence, whilst team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama will target a continuation of the slow but steady progress he has made in terms of results in the previous rounds.
Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar), Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing), Toni Elías (LCR Honda) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) had mixed results at Brno – Elías will be confident that a day’s testing after the race will aid his progress – and British rookie Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will tackle another brand new track. Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi – who tested at Brno – and Randy de Puniet will also expect more from their efforts after finishing outside the top ten in the previous round.
The Moto2 category remains an intriguing encounter in which Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) and Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) continue to battle for race victories whilst eyeing one another’s progress, as the German leads his Spanish rival by a margin of 43 points in the standings.
Márquez crossed the finish line ahead of Bradl at Brno but the latter’s consistency this year is what has built him a healthy lead in the quest for the 2011 title. Both were on the podium in the Czech Republic as they maintained their strong runs, but it was Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) who took victory as the Italian recovered the early-season form that had seen him marked out as a title contender.
With Bradl and Márquez somewhat distanced at the top the fight for third spot in the Championship is turning into an entertaining one, with Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) currently leading the way. Iannone’s win lifted him back into the mix and alongside fellow Italian Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) and Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2).
British rookie Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) has suffered the disappointment of two straight DNFs after a run of three impressive podiums and will be eager to get back amongst the leading pack. Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) is still looking to recover the kind of form that brought him podiums in Portugal and France, and the progress of rookie Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) has been impressive in recent rounds although he crashed at Brno. Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) will hope that a full week of further recovery time will allow him the chance to push at Indianapolis where he was second in last year’s Moto2 race.
Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40) is in line to make his 100th Grand Prix start across all classes this weekend, and American participation in the Moto2 category will be tripled in Indianapolis. Alongside Kenny Noyes (Avintia-STX), JD Beach comes into the World Championship on a full-time basis for the Aeroport de Castello team, whilst Jake Gagne will ride an FTR as a wild card entry under the GP Tech banner.
Over the course of the last two rounds of the 125cc World Championship leader Nico Terol’s advantage at the top of the standings has been cut from 39 points to 12, as the Spaniard contends with the ever-strengthening challenge of Frenchman Johann Zarco.
Terol held an extremely healthy lead following his victory at Mugello but fourth place in Germany and a mechanical failure at Brno which resulted in a DNF have closed the gap on the Bankia Aspar rider. His main rival Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) is now even closer on his tail, having finished the last three races in second position as he edges closer to an elusive first World Championship Grand Prix win.
Rookie Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) was sixth in the Czech Republic and remains a threat at the top end, whilst Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) comes into the Indianapolis weekend fresh off the back of his first ever GP win. Cortese, who registered his achievement in his 109th Grand Prix start, is now just a single point behind Viñales.
Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) missed the Brno race after returning home to Germany from the Czech Republic due to illness, and his participation at Indianapolis depends on the outcome of further medical checks in his homeland.
Bankia Aspar rider Héctor Faubel leads a quartet of Spanish riders in the standings from sixth to ninth which includes Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo), Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton) and Luis Salom (RW Racing) who was forced to miss the Brno race with a fractured hand. British rookie Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) completes the current top ten and will hope to recover from a non-finish in the previous round, where an engine problem ended his race on the opening lap.
Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) scored his first World Championship podium at Brno, where Simone Grotzkyj’s (Phonica Racing) eighth place was the best result in the 125cc class for an Italian rider so far this season. The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix runs from August 26th-28th, with the on-track action starting on Friday at 9.15am local time when the 125 category gets its first practice session underway.