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Preview Indianapolis Grand Prix, USA
Posted by: newsla on Aug 05, 2014 - 03:14 PM
Preview Indianapolis Grand Prix, USA


Honda has completely dominated the first half of the 2014 MotoGP season, with Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez winning all nine races. Now, refreshed after the summer break, the defending World Champion will be aiming to preserve his perfect score as work begins again at Indianapolis.


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Experienced team-mate Dani Pedrosa will be striving to build on his own return to form, and bolster his hard-won second place in the championship.

The atmospheric venue for the attempt is the USA’s iconic Indianapolis banked oval “Brickyard”, where the MotoGP-dedicated infield circuit has been resurfaced and reworked in line with rider feedback. Indy is race ten: marking the start of the intensive second half of a record-setting 2014 grand prix season.

Spaniard Marquez, from Cervera, west of Barcelona, is already the youngest-ever premier-class World Champion after his maiden victory last year. The former 125cc and Moto2 title-holder has been unbeatable this year on the class-leading 1000cc V4 Honda RC213V prototype, with all but two of his nine wins achieved from pole position.

The flawless performance has seen the 21-year-old add to an ever-growing list of records equalled or broken. Should he start the second half of the season with a tenth win at Indy, his latest statistic will put him equal with an earlier serial Honda World Champion, Mick Doohan. The Australian five-time champion took ten consecutive wins in 1997, the first to do so in more than 25 years. Doohan still holds the record for 12 wins in a season … another target within Marquez’s sights.

The omens are in his favour … Marquez has won at the Brickyard circuit for the past three years, twice in Moto2 and last year in MotoGP, from pole position.

His strongest challenge is likely to be from his Repsol Honda team-mate. Pedrosa made a strong start, then once recovered from corrective wrist surgery at the beginning of the European season, has regained second overall, adding three more rostrum finishes including a Repsol Honda one-two (second of the year) at the last race in Germany.

The rider from Sabadell, close to the Catalunya GP circuit of Montmelo, also has an enviably strong Indianapolis record. He is targeting a fifth successive rostrum at the track, including victories in 2010 and 2012 (from pole). Pedrosa was on pole also for the inaugural Indy GP in 2008, but finished eighth in a race cut short as hurricane force winds and rain brought chaos.

Two satellite teams also campaign the mighty 1000cc V4 RCV213V machine, with former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl currently ahead. Riding the LCR Honda RC213V, Bradl has twice qualified on the front row and twice led on track, most recently at the last round in Germany … until a failed tyre gamble in tricky wet-to-dry conditions dropped him out of the points at his home race. The German will be anxious to make amends and move up again from ninth overall.

GO&FUN Gresini Honda RC213V rider Alvaro Bautista claimed a top three in France, but early crashes dented his points score, and he currently lies tenth, one place behind Bradl. Spaniard Bautista was third at Indianapolis in 2009 on a 250.

Bautista’s GO&FUN Gresini Honda team-mate, Scott Redding, last year’s Moto2 runner-up, is the top scorer out of four riders campaigning Honda’s new for-sale production-racer RCV1000R MotoGP bike, a close replica of the factory machine. The British youngest-ever GP winner and former Moto2 champion has also claimed the best finish for the RCV1000R, built for the new Open category, with seventh at the opening round, and lies 12th overall.

Veteran Honda rider and 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) is four points down, but will not be taking part at Indianapolis nor the next round at Brno in the Czech Republic, after surgery to address a troublesome right wrist problem. His place will be taken by former 125 GP and World Superbike rider Leon Camier, the Briton making his premier-class debut.

Second Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R team-mate Hiro Aoyama has scored points in every round so far but one, with a best of tenth in Argentina. Aoyama won the 250cc title in 2009, when he claimed the last-ever two-stroke World Championship in the class for Honda.

Czech law graduate Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) rides the fourth production Honda. Abraham is also a regular in the points, and has shown improving form after recovering from major shoulder surgery last year.

Moto2 is all-Honda … 34 competitors are supplied with race-tuned CBR600 engines by the series organisers, to guarantee close competition and reliable racing.

After a dominant start by Spanish rider Tito Rabat, the halfway point saw his Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex team-mate Mika Kallio his strongest rival. Second place in Germany to Rabat’s fourth closed him to within less than 20 points. Rabat has amassed four wins and six pole positions, Finn Kallio has two wins and one pole start, but consistency in recent races has made the difference.

An influx of fast rookies up from Moto3 has enlivened the middle class, with one of them – Moto3 champion Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) – lying third overall after claiming a first win at only his second attempt. He has added two second places and another top five at the last three races, reinforcing his strong debut.

Experienced Swiss campaigner Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) is fourth, and closed up in Germany after claiming his first victory, from a maiden pole-position start.

More ex-Moto3 rookies Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex)- seventh overall and Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex) - ninth have pushed up among the seasoned veterans, but in recent races the old hands have regained ground. Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing Kalex) is a strong fifth; former 125 champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter) is up to sixth. Anthony West (QMMF Speed Up), at 32 the oldest in the class, lies eighth after a valuable victory at Assen, the only other rider to win a race this year; Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter) completes the top ten.

In Moto3, where six Hondas are up against machines from KTM and Mahindra, the upgraded Honda NSF250RW is playing a leading part in the closest racing and most open championship battle of the series.

Top Honda rider is the younger Marquez brother, Alex, who has won two out of the past three races and closed to within less than 20 points of leader Jack Miller (KTM) as the new Moto3 Honda gains maturity.

Marquez rides for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 squad, alongside team-mate Alex Rins, who has scored four podiums this year but still awaits his first victory, with two non-finishes in the last three races damaging his points score: he lies fifth, three points behind KTM rival Romano Fenati.

Second-best Honda rider is another Spaniard, Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda), whose four podium finishes put him a close third overall. Team-mate John McPhee backed up several top-tens in his second year in the class with a best-yet seventh in Germany. Placed 13th overall, he has the distinction of the lap record in Catalunya.

Experienced French campaigner Alexis Masbou (Ongetta Rivacold Honda) lies seventh after a series of strong rides, his best result coming with third at the last round. His new team-mate Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta AirAsia Honda) has been finding his feet, with a best so far of 11th, in France and Italy.

The imposing Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the first circuit in the world to bear the “Speedway” name) is the largest sporting facility in the world, where the twisty 2.6-mile infield circuit dedicated to MotoGP is dwarfed by the massive 2.5-mile banked oval track, with grandstand seating for 250,000 fans.

The infield track was created in 1998 for a short-lived involvement with Formula 1; and in 2008 MotoGP arrived, on a modified version of the circuit run in the opposite direction. The first event was disrupted by Hurricane Ike, causing the MotoGP race to be cut short and the 250cc race to be abandoned.

For 2014, a full set of modifications, designed with input from Dorna and the riders, has been completed. Three corner sets (Turns 2/3/4; 7/8, and 15/16) have been realigned to become more flowing and improve overtaking opportunities, shortening the lap by 46 metres to 4.170 km (2.591 miles). More importantly, the entire circuit has been resurfaced, where before a mix of different surfaces came under fire from the riders.

Honda rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda says:
“It’s been a great summer break, which has combined some important time off to recharge the batteries, and also training to ensure I’m ready for the second half of the season. I’ve had time to reflect on what an amazing first nine races we’ve had and now I’m really eager to get back on the bike in Indianapolis! I’ve always liked the track and it will be interesting to see the changes that they’ve made, so we’ll need to pay attention from the first practice session and get back into our rhythm as quickly as possible!.”

Dani: Pedrosa, Repsol Honda says:
“I’m feeling relaxed and ready for this second half of the season. The strong race in Germany and confirming my contract before the summer break was the perfect way to end the first half. Indy is a track I’ve had good results at in the past few years so my aim is to arrive there and fight again for the victory. Obviously we have a new track layout to look at so it will be important to take some time with my team to examine these changes and be prepared for the race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP says:
“The summer break gave me the chance to relax and to train to face the second half of the season with more energy and motivation. My season so far was up-and-down but I want to begin the second part of the championship in a different mood trying to forget some unlucky and tough weekends like Germany. Indianapolis is a special venue for all MotoGP riders as the circuit is an iconic one. I had good races there in the premier class and the target is to follow the top riders.”

Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini says:
“Indianapolis is a very strange track, but this year we will race on a revised layout: the design of some corners which actually were not very suitable for bike racing has been modified and the track has been re-surfaced, so I think that first of all it will be important to verify how the tyres work on the new surface. Anyway, I’ve always had good results in Indy, so our goal is to try to find immediately a good set-up in order to achieve a good feeling with the bike and be able to give our best. Finally we resume action after the summer break and I hope to show a better consistency in this second part of the championship.”

Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini says:
“This year they changed the track a little bit so it will be interesting to see how it goes, but anyway with that long straight going into the first fast corner it should be exciting to race there aboard a MotoGP bike! I also like going to the United States because the fans really like to show their support and they are an inspiration for us. Starting the second half of the season with an advantage over the rest of the other production Honda riders in the championship standings is good, but now we need to continue like this. The summer break has been helpful to take a bit of rest and to get even stronger for the second half of the season. We expect high temperatures for this race so I did a lot of training and now I feel I’m prepared.”

Nicky Hayden, Drive M7 Aspar Honda says:
“Well I don’t like the thought of this weekend being the Indy MotoGP race knowing I’ll be watching and not out there on my bike representing the team in my home race, but this is the situation. Truthfully I have already dealt with it and I’m only thinking about my recovery so no pity party for me. Of course I will still be in Indy for the complete event – I love everything they do in Indy to make it such a cool weekend, there really is something for everybody to do there so I look forward to seeing it all and meeting up with the fans. I seem to be healing on course but it was no small surgery so I’m not sure when I’ll be back and probably won’t know until after my next doctor check-up. Until then good luck to Leon – of course it won’t be the easiest situation but I am happy the team was able to find such an experienced rider with his credibility to hold the fort until I get back.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda says:
“I made the most of the summer break to head back to Japan and spend a few days with family and friends. I have topped up on energy and motivation for the second half of the season. Indianapolis is a unique circuit with its own peculiarities but they have made some changes for this year so I am looking forward to getting there and having a look at what they have done. It is a strange track but I like it and in general I like racing in American because of the atmosphere, the culture and the fans. We finished the first half of the season well so the aim is to kick off the second half with another strong result.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda says:
“I have mixed memories of Indianapolis. In 2012 I was eighth, one of my best MotoGP results. But last year I crashed in free practice, and the injury to my shoulder eventually meant I couldn’t finish the season. This year we have had mainly stable results, and some interesting races in the battle to be top production Honda. That is the target every race, and in the second half of the season I hope to stay consistent, but improve by one or two positions

Moto2 Rider Quotes

Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Tito Rabat says:
“I’m happy with how the first half of the season went, but now we must focus on the second half, starting this weekend in Indianapolis. My approach for these last nine races will be the same as for the first nine; work hard, put in 100 percent every time I get on the bike and fight to win races. On paper the Indianapolis track layout has changed a lot, but tracks always look different from the seat of the bike than they do on paper, so we’ll see just how big a change there’s been when we get there.”

Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Mika Kallio says:
“I like Indianapolis, the atmosphere and the history of the place make this race a little bit special. Unfortunately, my history in Indianapolis isn’t quite as good as I’d have hoped for, while Tito has been strong there in the past. Previously we’ve had to use the harder option tyres at Indy and the changes in the tarmac have been an issue, so it will be interesting to see what impact the resurfacing and reconfiguration of the track have on tyre choice. Whatever we find when we get there the aim remains the same. If I want to fight for the championship then I need to finish in front of both Tito and Maverick Vinales again this weekend.”

Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex rider Maverick Vinales says:
“I think I did some good races in the first half of the year, but I didn’t really expect to be third in the championship. Now the focus is to continue in the same way, and even hope to win again in the second half. I have had good results at Indy … on the podium in 2011 and 2013. We will work hard, and do our best.”

Moto3 Honda Rider Quotes

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Marquez says:
“Last year I got my first grand prix podium at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, so returning to the American track is something special. Besides, it’s a circuit that also suits me pretty well and I really enjoy it. After the summer break I return very motivated and I think that at this stage of the championship we are at a great level. I’ll try to get a good feeling from day one, in order to obtain the best results.”

Saxoprint-RTG Honda rider Efren Vazquez says:
“At Indy I think we will work better from FP1 to FP3 – this is my first target, because we need to start from nearer the front if we want to fight for the podium. I like the Indy track, and I am interested to see the changes. I think we can make a good result there.”

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins says:
“The holidays have gone well. There was time for a bit of everything, including for complete rest for a few days without training. I no longer have any pain in my foot and I feel recovered from the injury, so now we focus on Indianapolis, which is one of my favourite tracks. It brings back good memories, because last year I got the victory there. This year they have changed the layout a bit and it is faster, so we will have to study these changes when we arrive there. I’ve already tried the new layout thanks to video games, because the game this year has been updated.”

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