I love how summer breaks end in a flourish, with fireworks to boot. That’s exactly what happened as we headed to Indianapolis this MotoGP weekend. We were treated to a stunning Qualifying with promises of a phenomenal race. Hearts were broken, as were records, and redemption just about slipped through our riders’ fingers.
The Crutchlow Move
Cal Crutchlow made the biggest news during the summer break with the announcement that he would be moving to Ducati next year. Pardon us for being so sceptical. Ducati hasn’t really had a great run. I know that’s an understatement, especially since every rider on the Ducati, since Casey Stoner, has more or less thrown up his hands in despair. But our Honey Badger was pretty shiny-happy during the pre-race conference. He talked about the rather difficult conversation he had with Herve Poncharal, the Tech 3 team manager. “It was quite an emotional phone call. It was a difficult decision to make,” Crutchlow said. He acknowledged that Ducati had a lot of work ahead. But added that he wouldn’t comment on how the others have ridden the Ducati. “It is clear that it (Ducati) needs to improve, but that’s not my job. My job and motivation is to ride 100 per cent.” He also said that it seems difficult for Andrea (Dovizioso). “But things can change,” Crutchlow said.
Valentino Rossi came off the Laguna Seca round on a high with a podium finish – even though Marc Marquez upped him at the Corkscrew. The summer break testing of the seamless gearbox was also full of promise. But, Indianapolis was a different story. It was obvious that Vale was struggling. Qualifying saw him clock a best time of 1’39.356s; 1.398s behind the front-runner. It’s not what we would have wanted. Vale will start the race from 9th on the grid. He has a lot of ground to cover to make up the points and keep his 4th position in the championship standings.
Ben Spies has got to be one of the unluckiest men in the MotoGP paddock. The weekend began on such a happy note, full of promise and hope. Spies talked about the road ahead during the pre-race press conference. It was time to dust off the cobwebs and get down to business, he said. But come Friday, fate and luck had something different in store. Spies had a highside crash at the Turn 4 exit during FP3. He has suffered a dislocated left shoulder and will not be racing at Indianapolis.
“I was going out on the first lap, when I made a mistake and spun the rear tyre and high-sided. I’m just sorry for the team and frustrated for the fans because I was looking forward to being out there. We were starting to feel good, but no we’re back at square 1,” Spies said in a Pramac Racing Team press release.
The Marquez Touch
We all knew Marc Marquez would be giving us something special at Indianapolis. But we could have never expected this. The rookie sensation took his 4th pole position of the season. That’s not all, he clocked in a spectacular, phenomenal lap of 1’37.958, almost a second faster than his teammate Dani Pedrosa’s 2012 time. The race promises to be equally spectacular!
The Superman Strikes Back
The summer break has definitely helped our resident superman, Jorge Lorenzo. He set a flying lap during the qualifying only to be upped by Marquez. He now starts from 2nd on the grid. Here’s what he had to say post-qualifying: “I’m happy with the pace, it’s not bad. We still don’t know how well our rivals are prepared for the race, but I think I have a constant pace to finish the race with a good speed. The bike has improved by some small details every session, so I’m happy with that also. I’m happy to be back on the first row and confident we can fight for the podium. You can see that Marc, Dani and Stefan are really strong, normally we are with them. But it’s clear that this track is not so suitable for our bike, but it’s much better than it was in 2011. I am confident that we can fight to be not far from first position or maybe to fight for first.”
The Tornado Effect
I have to mention Colin Edwards. I adore the man. He brings so much spunk to the MotoGP circuit, and always has a ready smile for the camera. It is about time that his luck changes. It did during the Qualifying. The Texas Tornado took part in Q2 for the first time this season and will start from the 12th place. He was also the fastest CRT on track. He said in a press release: “I thought there was an age limit to get into parc ferme, that I was too old, but they just let me right in today…We are making it step by step. The bike is feeling pretty good.”