After an eventful summer break, where the Ducati Team and Valentino Rossi announced their split at the end of 2012, the Italian outfit is fully focussed on the upcoming Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix this weekend.
The infamous Brickyard, which has hosted MotoGP™ races in the past four years, will be a challenge for teams and riders alike, who not only have a very varied layout to deal with, but also some interesting surface changes. It is a counter-clockwise race, and puts tremendous strain on the left shoulder of the tyre, which is why Bridgestone will be providing asymmetrical tyres featuring harder rubber on the left side.
Jeremy Burgess, Rossi’s crew chief, explains the challenges that the team will face: “Indy’s an interesting track. It’s left hand – same as Laguna Seca. It’s got a fast straight, a lot of slow corners, and in particular it has some surface changes, so the track is difficult for a lot of riders. And the last sequence of corners coming onto the straight are very much to the left, so you put a lot of temperature into that side of the tyre, which can make it difficult to enter onto the straight well. So, the setting of the bike is quite difficult, or has been, for us in the past. So it’s quite interesting.”
The Australian also doesn’t believe that the now increased engine capacity will give any significant advantage or disadvantage: “I don’t think we’ll see much difference. The circuit at Indy is nothing special in terms of 800cc or 1000cc – the corners are very flat, because it’s laid out within the confines of the oval circuit of course. And that itself is interesting, but it’s a good circuit, and I enjoy going there.”
Rossi, despite his decision to leave, has pledged to do his upmost for the team before the end of the season: “This break served as an opportunity to make important decisions for the future, but now I want to return to thinking about the races because we want to improve, and during the weekend it’s important to focus completely on what we have to do on the track. Indianapolis isn’t one of my favourite circuits, although I do have a win there. It’s a particular track because it’s one of those that goes in the opposite direction, so the lines are a bit strange in many of the corners. It’s a tricky track, but we’ll try to do our best and have fun.”
Teammate Nicky Hayden, for whom this is the closest track to a home race, is hoping to do well in front of his local crowd: “Laguna was fun, but Indy is really my home GP, just across the state line from Kentucky. Hopefully we can do a good result. We struggled more at Laguna than I expected, but Indy is much faster, with more opportunities to open the throttle. It should be nice to ride that track on the 1000s, and it will be fun for the American fans to really get to see them in action. Last season, tyre wear was critical there, but hopefully the pavement will come in a bit better this year. I hope to be competitive starting on Friday, and I’ll definitely be disappointed if we don’t get the best result of the season so far.”