MotoGP 2012 Indianapolis Preview

An edited version of this article, and some  fab high-rez images, will appear on Motorcycle.com on Wednesday or Thursday.  In the meantime, enjoy this in its original state.

Aliens Take Aim at the IMS Infield Track

At Laguna Seca, Repsol Honda’s receding star, Casey Stoner, laid down a statement:  Those of you who thought the 2012 championship was over should perhaps revisit this idea.  His solid win over factory Yamaha primo Jorge Lorenzo, with teammate Dani Pedrosa finishing third, brought the Australian to within 32 points of Lorenzo, heading into Round 11.  The diminutive Pedrosa, in the midst of an outstanding season, is also in the midst of his two rivals, trailing Lorenzo by 23.  All three need to eat their Wheaties this weekend.

The history of MotoGP at Indianapolis is starting to become etched in my mind, more than other circuits since I get better seats here in my home town.  The 2008 inaugural race was held during Hurricane Ike, and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who became Yamaha’s  prodigal son this past week, tracked down Repsol Honda homeboy Nicky Hayden in a remarkably “wet race” called after 18 laps.  In 2009 Rossi, who could have slammed the door on teammate Lorenzo, instead crashed out as Lorenzo won going away, being joined on the podium by Alex de Angelis (?) and Nicky Hayden, the Kentucky Kid’s sole visit to the rostrum that season.  Back home again in Indiana.

Two years ago, Lorenzo led the series comfortably in the scorching heat at Indy.  Pedrosa unexpectedly dominated the race, and Lorenzo managed a satisfactory third, but the day belonged to Ben Spies. The American, in the middle of his Rookie of the Year season on the Tech 3 Yamaha, took the pole late in the QP, ran with the big dogs all day, and held on to second place, the first podium for a satellite Yamaha since Colin Edwards’ at Sepang in 2008.  Stoner wrestled with his Ducati all weekend, qualifying sixth and crashing out on lap eight.

Last year, Repsol Honda owned the world and the IMS, running away from the factory Yamahas.  Stoner and Pedrosa blew away Spies and Lorenzo, spoiling the young American’s second consecutive podium in his home crib.  It marked Indianapolis’ first look at Valentino Rossi wearing (some) Ducati red, and it wasn’t pretty, as The Doctor qualified 14th and finished 10th, one of the most painful outings Rossi has endured in the premier class.  Ever.

Seeking a trend, we can summarize: Rossi and Hayden, Lorenzo and Hayden, Pedrosa and Spies, Stoner and Pedrosa.  Something for every taste and budget.  No telling who may have the hot hand this year, other than the Ducati boys, who won’t.

The MotoGP World Tips Slightly on its Axis

Whenever there is change on the factory teams, I go into a bit of altered consciousness trying to make the adjustments.  On the Repsol team–Stoner/Pedrosa to Pedrosa/Marquez.  On the Yamaha team–Lorenzo/Spies to Lorenzo/Rossi.

[Valentino Rossi back wearing Yamaha leathers in Alien-land.  The sun will rise in the east; all is again right with the world.  I’m flashing on baseball’s A-Rod, who went off to Texas to “win a championship” (good one, Alex) and ended up with the Yankees.]

At Ducati, Rossi/Hayden to Dovizioso/Hayden.  Audi has apparently been ordered by their new Italian employee to fix the GP12 or, um, well, actually, he’ll race for two years and leave in disgust after promising he won’t.  Perhaps Audi is already experiencing buyer’s remorse about owning the rights to an Andrea Dovizioso who feels free to tell them how to run their business.  Ducati is also said to be pursuing a new development strategy, fielding factory-supported A and B teams, grooming younger riders with big potential and wide shoulders to ride for their satellite squads.  See, Nicky Hayden, on a one year deal, is no spring chicken.  Just sayin’.

Andrea Dovizioso is additional proof that life on the factory teams, even Ducati, must be several orders of magnitude sweeter than life on the satellites.  Dovizioso, on the Tech 3 Yamaha, has been hammering podiums all year, and is intentionally throwing away any chance of continuing to do so for probably two full years, thus completing his personal negative career hat trick.  He got worked at Repsol Honda last year.  He got worked just last week by factory Yamaha.  And now he will turn himself inside out trying to race the Ducati, the Career Killer, for money.

Speaking of screwed, we’re witnessing the dizzying rise and fall of Cal Crutchlow, who took such an aggressive I’ll-Be-Doing-You-A-Bloody-Favor stance with the Bologna factory that they encouraged him to pound sand, as it were.  Crutchlow’s options, apart from remaining on the Tech 3 Yamaha, are few.  Cal needs new advisors less inclined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Next year, he won’t be the only Englishman on the grid, either.  There’ll be a new Brit in town, most likely Scott Redding.

Toni and the Wildcards

This, unfortunately, is not one of the bands you’ll hear in the infield this weekend.  With Hector Barbera questionable, dragging his three week old broken leg around, Toni Elias again brings his high-priced vagabond routine to the Pramac Ducati, which he was able to remain aboard at Laguna Seca for almost two full laps.

Steve Rapp returns with his Attack Performance Kawasaki-powered privateer after failing to qualify in Monterey.  He is joined by Aaron Yates, fronting for Hoosier-based GPTech, sporting another homegrown frame and powered by Suzuki, which is kind of an oxymoron, but they’re new, so we’ll overlook the irony.  Assuming one or both qualify, they’ll be battling with the CRT dregs and definitely trailing the Aprilia-powered ARTs beneath Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro.

Chasing Jorge Lorenzo

One of the things I’ve never spent much MotoGP energy on is arranging interviews with Big Stars.  This year, with a photographer and interpreter in tow, I’ve made a serious run at gaining an exclusive with Jorge Lorenzo Himself, as in Possibly This Year’s Repeat World Champion.  This would be a huge score amongst the gearheads who edit and publish this stuff, and would raise my stature with them immeasurably, given how low the bar currently sits.

Somehow, I located the email address of the Yamaha team flack, Mr. Gavin Matheson.  My proposal to him, in exchange for 10 minutes with his guy, was drinks and dinner at my place for him and Jorge, grilling some fresh salmon and Indiana sweet corn, with local summer tomatoes on the side.  Some down time away from the track, kickin’ it, with a Rolling Stone-style feature spread on the Motorcycle.com website the following day.  A few really penetrating questions, more to do with his private life and interests than bike stuff and the whole internationally-famous-jock-who-can’t-go-anywhere-in-Spain-without-armed-guards thing.

It’s not happening.

Gavin on Monday assured me that despite his almost overwhelming personal desire to see Jorge’s smiling face on the Motorcycle.com site, Jorge’s interview schedule is already jam-packed, which allows him time for video interviews, but not much else.  Here at Motorcycle.com we don’t take that kind of thing personally.  We are still young, and there will be plenty of other grands prix at which Lorenzo, perhaps even Rossi, will become putty in our hands, revealing things in This Publication that you can’t get anywhere else.

Just not this weekend.

Your Hurrying Hoosier Forecast

Indiana has been broiling all summer; last week I cut my lawn for the first time since, like, May.  But the weather forecast for race weekend is dry with temps in the 70’s.  The IMS has been promoting the race hard this year, and attendance is expected to be up, way in excess of what they drew at the “U.S.” Grand Prix in frigging California.  The Gen Con Convention is in town this weekend, billing itself as “the original, longest running, best attended, gaming convention in the world.” And Indy Fringe brings its “offbeat theatrical (freak) show” to Mass Ave. for 11 days starting on the 17th.

Let’s review.  On Friday and Saturday nights we’ll have thousands of motorheads, gamers, and thespians sharing the same space downtown. The opportunities for some epic flash mobs are virtually endless.  I’m taking the family down for a good old Hoosier family funfest on Saturday night, with pictures to follow.  Check back here on Sunday night or Monday for the race story.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: