It feels hotter than 82degrees F/28C at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday morning for the MotoGP warm-up. It could be the humidity, which is 35 percent. The track temperature was 90F/32C.
All 17 riders were on course. JORGE LORENZO/Fiat Yamaha Team was on top at the checkered flag with 1’40.482. However the lead changed almost lap by lap. Among those who led one time or another – sometimes more than once for most – included VALENTINO ROSSI/Fiat Yamaha Team; ALEIX ESPARGARO/Pramac Racing Team, CASEY STONER/Ducati Team, and DANI PEDROSA/Repsol Honda Team.
Pole sitter BEN SPIES/Monster Yamaha Tech 3 finished third, behind Pedrosa. Fourth and fifth were Stoner and ANDREA DOVIZIOSO/Repsol Honda Team. Newly renewed Ducati Team rider, NICKY HAYDEN, ran as high as third before finishing seventh. The other American on the card was COLIN EDWARDS/Monster Yamaha Tech 3, who was twelfth.
Several of the riders have been outspoken about the bumpy circuit, especially CASEY STONER/Ducati Team. One could wonder how Stoner’s whinging will go over with his new Honda team. Some think the Brickyard track could be bumpier than last year and are concerned over the cracks making it through the cold winter.
When watching the bikes in slow motion, one can see the suspension working up and down on the bumps. Rossi has fallen three times this weekend including once in the Sunday morning warm-up. However, the Fiat Yamaha team spokesperson said that riders fall, Rossi is having a bad weekend, his falls aren’t related to the bumps, and his (healing broken) leg is OK.
KEVIN FORBES, IMS Director of Engineering and Construction at IMS, said Saturday night that the 2010 MotoGP track is no different than last year. Nothing has been changed and the course is the same length as before. And, the course is the same for everyone. The MotoGP riders run a different course than do the Indy Racing League Indycars at the Indianapolis 500 or the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars at the Brickyard 400. If the motorcycle track was repaved the riders could then complain how slippery it was.
While DORNA has no comment on the one year extension for IMS, it can be said that DORNA is keen to return to the iconic race track where everything is so nice – “It’s fantastic.” The teams and riders all like the circuit.
There are already two current MotoGP venues in the United States – Indy and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey CA on the West Coast. Although sanctioning bodies are always looking around, there is no indication that MotoGP would be interested in the newly proposed USGPF1 circuit in Austin Texas – perhaps the first ever purpose-built F1 facility in the US. KEVIN SCHWANTZ, 1993 World Champion of 500cc class, which is now MotoGP, lives in Austin, 15 minutes from the proposed track. He is serving in an advisory role to the USGPF1 organization, as a motorcycle consultant.
Schwantz said HERMANN TILKE, German course designer, has a Master Plan available. Schwantz doesn’t want to lose the opportunity, if available, for two-wheel vehicles to use the facility. He said Austin, which is 200 miles or so from Dallas, and Houston, is the eleventh strongest economy in the country. There is Austin Bergstrom Airport three miles away which has long runways, sufficient to accommodate jumbo jets which are used to transport F1 (or FIM) vehicles, equipment and TV gear.
Tilke has been involved with designing and/or developing 20 courses, including two for Moto GP in Alcaniz, Spain, and Moscow, Russia.
Schwantz acknowledges that BERNIE ECCLESTONE, who has reportedly signed a contract with TAVO HELLMUND of Full Throttle Productions, is not always keen on motorcycles. There is one obvious problem which would separate motorcycles from Formula One cars – runoff area. Many F1 circuits utilize concrete or solid surfaces, while motorcycles prefer gravel. Bikers think of gravel as a way to slow down the rider and/or motorcycle when falling, crashing or sliding off track. On a more solid surface, the rider could slide, maybe into a barrier. Motorcycle tracks utilize armco fronted with air fences in the dangerous areas. There are some motorcycle circuits now which are using concrete and gravel for runoff areas.
Schwantz wants motorcycles to be considered when building this world-class motorsports complex. The Texan, who currently runs his motorcycle school at Barber Park and other circuits, would like to run a motorcycle school there, and include motorcycle safety. While he doesn’t envision different course configurations, there could be a North End and a South End.
The Austin circuit is currently planned to start moving dirt the end of this year; and even Tilke admits it will be a long, hard process to meet the deadline of a F1 race at the end of the 2012 season. Schwantz, who attends some of the planning meetings, said it could take 1500 workers working 24/7.
Stay tuned. It’s an ambitious undertaking with a 26-27 month deadline. Some say it will be believed when the first race is held.