Stoner & Honda Destroy Indy Field

story and photos by Tim Hailey, with help from MotoGP

Repsol Honda teammates Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso celebrate a dominant performance by the team

Casey Stoner and Repsol Honda spanked the MotoGP field at the 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. Number 1 qualifier Stoner stood atop Indy’s podium with teammate Dani Pedrosa and Texan Ben Spies flanking him. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso finished fifth.

Dani Pedrosa led early

Pedrosa took the early race lead on a chaotic first lap that saw a slow-to-getaway Spies drop from second on the grid all the way back to ninth after he and Dovizioso touched heading into turn one, pushing Spies wide. Stoner fell to third behind Jorge Lorenzo for three laps, then overtook Pedrosa on lap seven and stretched his lead in front of the pack to remain unchallenged for the remainder of the race, crossing the finishline nearly five seconds ahead of Dani. “Happy to get a good start because, you know, the first part of this track is quite tight,” said Pedrosa. “So like, for example, what happened to Ben, he had some problems in the first corner. So it’s always fine to go first and have a clear road ahead. And I start well; I did a good couple first laps, then Casey came by, and he starts to pull away. But I kept focus on my rhythm and I was doing quite decent laps, so happy with the performance. The bike was working well for the whole race. So thanks to the team for that. We did a good improvement from yesterday. Also, to keeping the tires safe, you know, because if you push too hard, then the front starts to close a lot and then you had to — I wanted to keep the tires safe for the end of the race.”

“We started off the race pretty average,” said Stoner. “We got a good start, but going into Turn 2, I didn’t have my brakes hot enough and I almost tagged the back of Dani. So I ran wide and then Jorge came past me. I knew that this track was going to be hard to overtake on, so I didn’t really want to lose many spots, as many as I could. From there I was just trying to get past Jorge. He was riding well; he was covering his lines well. There wasn’t many opportunities. But once I got past, we were able to sort of start chasing down Dani and then sort of holding the lap times we knew he could. But it wasn’t an easy race right from the start, and a lot of hard work to get what we have.”

After getting around his teammate, Stoner claims to have sort of spaced out as his lead grew. “I was trying not to look at my lap counter,” said Casey. “I was basically just going around and around and trying to make sure the gap stayed right and I did everything right, because, yeah, I knew this race was going to be hard. It ended up being very true. We were struggling again, you know. Last four or five laps, I was starting to get tired. You know, it’s difficult to stay with concentration, and I had to pick my pace up every now and then just to get my concentration levels back and sort of stay focused to the end. The whole weekend has been pretty good for us. We can’t complain. The track has been very difficult to ride and very difficult to understand. But the team managed to get the bike sorted, and we managed to ride this track pretty well this weekend. The way the team worked, the way everybody worked around me this weekend was fantastic. We managed to get that bike slowly but surely better every session. By the time it came to the race, we were ready.”

Ben Spies working his way back under Andrea Dovizioso in turn 10

Spies methodically made his way back through the field and into third position by lap 16, overtaking 2009 winner Lorenzo who finished fourth. “Didn’t make the greatest start, but then when me and Dovi made contact, it made my race pretty miserable,” said Spies. “But in the end, we made some good passes. We came from a long way back to get a great result. So I’m happy with how the race went. Besides that, there’s always should have, could have, would have, but that’s how it goes. We had to kind of reset the brain after the first five turns and just try to stay focused on picking people off. We had to make some creative passes out there because it was quite tough getting it done in the straightaway. So we did what we could and we got a third place in front of the home crowd. So I’m happy.”

Dovizioso tussled with Nicky Hayden early in the race for fifth, until the American from the Ducati Team fell back with tire problems.

Álvaro Bautista kicks it out while high-balling into turn 10

Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista finished a lonely sixth after starting tenth on the grid. Spaniard Bautista crossed the line nine seconds in front of Texan Colin Edwards of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 . Randy de Puniet crossed the line in eighth, giving the French rider his best finish of the season so far.

Valentino Rossi yo-yo’d to way last then up to tenth

Ninth spot went to Hiroshi Aoyama of San Carlo Honda Gresini, who crossed the line a second and a half ahead of Valentino Rossi’s Ducati. Rossi dropped like a rock to last place—a distant last—after missing some corners and continuing his weekend long struggles with the Duc. At one point it looked like Rossi would enter the pits, but the Italian kept riding and made his way back up to finish tenth in front of rookie Cal Crutchlow of Monster Yamaha Tech 3.

Nicky Hayden’s Ducati was the last bike running, capping off a dismal weekend for the Italian team

Marco Simoncelli of San Carlo Honda Gresini ran as high as third but slowly dropped back, finally finishing in 12th. Toni Elías (LCR Honda) and Hayden completed the race finishers. Hayden pitted and rejoined the session to salvage some points, finishing 14th. A disappointing end was had for Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar), who crashed out of eighth place in the final corner.

Stoner extends his Championship lead to 44 points ahead of reigning World Champion Lorenzo with this win, his seventh of the year but first ever podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Australian, who started the weekend off bitching about the newly resurfaced track, absolutely refused to fall under the Brickyard’s spell. “I’m not like some other riders that really enjoy tracks just because they win there,” said Stoner. “I think I’ve won on most of the circuits that we have on the calendar now and, you know, we ride a lot of different tracks around the world, I can’t honestly say this is better than most of them. You know, we drive on some fantastic circuits, and we unfortunately don’t go to some of the best ones in the world. So it’s a circuit for me. I don’t get a kick out of it just because I win on it.”

With Indy’s MotoGP contract finished after this race and Austin’s starting next year, it’s commonly thought that Indy is out. This despite the fact that Indy outdraws the other US race at Laguna Seca. But Laguna Seca is in California, where all the motorcycle manufaturers have their US headquarters and advertising agencies. They view their state through rose colored glasses and, of course, prefer shorter travel. So it’s anybody’s guess, and even jaded young Stoner pitched in for Indy’s defense. “I think this whole facility and place could be unbelievable, but, in my opinion, the corners that tight, some of them, you know, we use first gear here a lot more than some other circuits. But this facility could be unbelievable with the history and everything that it’s got.”

“I think it’s more important for America to get involved with MotoGP and for it to grow in the States,” added Spies. “So, yeah, I mean I would like to see it, for sure. It’s an easy flight for me, so there’s a lot of bonuses to race here.”

“The track, as Casey also said, it could be a little better,” said Pedrosa. “The track is quite strange going in the opposite way. But, you know, I don’t know the future with it.”

And neither do the rest of us, but as a long time visitor to the Speedway, I say it’s a great event. Keep it.

MotoGP Indy candids photo gallery

Stoner interview


This is the view the Moto2 field had of Marky Marc Márquez

Marc Márquez headed up an all Spanish podium in the Moto2 race with Pol Espargaró and Esteve Rabat joining him on the rostrum.

Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), who started from second on the grid, led the outset but it was Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider Márquez who took the control of the Moto2 race, making his pass on Italian rider on lap eight and riding unchallenged thereafter. The Moto2 rookie now stands 28 points behind his German rival Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) in the Championship.

Moto2 rookies Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up) both claimed their first podiums in the category following a half race chase for second, with 20 year-old Espargaró riding across the finish in front of his fellow countryman in second position.

Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) took fourth position, with fellow Brit Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) behind him in fifth after making his way from 11th on the grid into sixth in the first four laps, then briefly leading in front of Smith on lap 14 of the race.

Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) skilfully made his way through the field after starting from 22nd on the grid to take sixth, thus collecting further valuable Championship points in his quest for the title. Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) followed in seventh, with Mattia Pasini (Ioda Racing Project), Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing) and Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40) completing the top ten finishers. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) placed 11th.

American rider Kenny Noyes (Avintia-STX) had an early crash and was unable to rejoin the race, while fellow countrymen JD Beach (Aeroport de Castello) finished 29th and wildcard Jake Gagne (GPTech) finished in 31st.

No one could touch Nico Terol

125cc points leader Nico Terol took his sixth win of the season, charging to victory ahead of Maverick Viñales and Sandro Cortese.

Bankia Aspar’s Terol had an amazing start off pole position, clearly determined to take a win following his DNF at the Czech GP when a mechanical forced his retirement out of the lead of the race. The 22 year-old pulled an immediate gap and led the race unchallenged, winning the race and extending his Championship lead to 26 points over Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo).

Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) picked off his competitors one by one to make his way up to third place to fight it out with Zarco. The French rider then had a huge moment, dropping him back into seventh with10 laps to go, allowing Viñales to push on and finish second.

Viñales appeared to have second in the bag, until with five laps remaining his tyres started to go, letting Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) catch back up to the youngster. Viñales came out on top of that skirmish to cross the line second, with Cortese finishing third and Gadea fourth.

Frenchman Zarco worked his way back through the field to cross the line fifth, getting the better of team mate Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) who finished sixth. Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) crossed the line a clear seventh, with Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica), Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Jakub Kornfeil (Ongetta-Centro Seta) completing the top ten. Brad Binder (RW Racing GP) made an impressive showing in his very first GP, finishing in 17th position.


Stoner Slams Track, Breaks Record

Yesterday’s whine aged well for Casey Stoner, who broke the Indy road course record while qualifying #1

After leading Friday practice, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner did a lot of complaing about the newly resurfaced road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But maybe that’s because the Australian has yet to podium in his two starts at the Speedway and despite topping the charts, his history here has ruined his attitude. But the track did look rosier through his visor on Saturday as he took pole for Sunday’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix with a record 1’38.850. “Yeah, you know, track conditions on Friday definitely were a lot lower than what they are now,” Stoner said after the session. “The grip level wasn’t the main issue, for me it was just the inconsistency of grip. That’s kind of continued throughout the weekend. We’ve got faster, and we’re pushing a little harder now. But those inconsistent spots are still there. When you touch them and you’re pushing a little bit more, then there’s still that point where the front can close or the rear can come around on you. That’s the issues we’re having, not so much the grip. You can deal with, you know, low grip levels if it’s consistent, but the fact that you’ll hit one patch and want to throw you off is something a little bit scary and difficult to understand where they are.”

Ben Spies (above) fell short in his chase of Stoner for pole but did out-qualify teammate Jorge Lorenzo (below)

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) who started from pole least year, qualified second behind Stoner with a 1’39.373, while teammate Jorge Lorenzo bettered his morning pace with a new bike set up by nearly one second with a best lap of 1’39.629, giving him the final spot on the front row.

Dani Pedrosa (above) held off teammate Andrea Dovizioso (below) to take the first spot on row two

Texan Colin Edwards completes the second row after posting a time of 1’40.098.

Marco Simoncelli is 7th on the grid

Owensboro’s Nicky Hayden (8th) leads 15th Toni Elias

Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista trailed Hayden’s time by just 0.040s

Valentino Rossi struggled big time, crashing early in the session and qualifying only 14th

Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) was the final rider in the top ten, while Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) both had run offs into the gravel, the two will start from eleventh and twelfth respectively on the grid.

Stoner interview

Marky Marc Márquez

With 38 riders in the Moto2 field, a clear spot for a fast lap was difficult to come by and a frenetic dash in the final minutes of the qualifying session saw the top ten riders swapping leading positions until Marc Márquez took the top spot aboard his Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol machine.

The Spaniard just held off Italian rider Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) by 0.001s, setting a record breaking time of 1’44.038 to grab his fifth pole of 2011. Although he missed out on pole, it was still Corsi’s best qualifying position of his Moto2 career. Joining the front row starters for the first time this season is Andrea Iannone, whose lap of 1’44.158 aboard his Speed Master machine qualified him third.

Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) heads up the second row, after posting a time of 1’44.344 on lap 18, two-tenths quicker than Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) in fifth and three-tenths ahead of Mattia Pasini (Ioda Racing Project) who takes the final spot on row two.

Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up) stepped up his times by over a second to qualify seventh, he was followed by Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) to complete the third row, while Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) was the final rider in the top ten times and will start from the head of row four.

Championship leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) qualified down in 22nd position after a morning practice session crash appeared to affect his momentum. Kenny Noyes was the leading American in the field, placing 29th, with fellow compatriots Jake Gagne (GPTech) and JD Beach (Aeroport de Castello) in 32nd and 35th respectively.

Nico Terol

The 125cc field hit the track under perfect weather conditions, and World Championship points leader Nico Terol (Bankia Aspar) proceeded his charge to pole with a lap 1’48.199, seventh-tenths faster than second placed starter Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany). The 22 year-old Spaniard is the only two-time winner of this event, having celebrated victories in 2008 and 2010 in the 125 class.

Brno race winner Cortese nipped the second spot from Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) by two-hundredths of a second with a lap of 1’48.919, putting the French rider third on the starting grid for his sixth front row start of the season.

The third row is headed up by Avant-AirAsia-Ajo rider Efrén Vázquez who followed Faubel by 0.166s. Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) made a strong return to action following his missed race in Brno due to illness to land the middle spot with Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) completing row three.

Row four is comprised of Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology Forward Team), Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) and Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil (Ongetta-Centro Seta). Podium finished from Brno, Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica), did not participate in the qualifying practice after being declared unfit to race due to collarbone fracture sustained in the morning practice session.

Evacuating the Eastern Seaboard? Head to Indy!

Casey Stoner speeds down the Indy road course backstretch on his way toward topping the Friday charts

Racers, fans, and even the hypercritical media couldn’t have asked for a better weather day than Friday at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway. And with a brand new racing surface beneath his Bridgestone skins, no one enjoyed the day more than Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. His 1’40.724 lap was fastest of the day and placed him top of the timesheet. Sadly, the only reason MotoGP made it on the local Indy sports reports tonight was because Stoner clipped the tail of a gopher or something on one lap. Well, there is a golf course here at the track, so where’s Bill Murray when you need him?

Despite his quickness, Stoner complained about a slippery track that he expects to rubber in.

Stoner interview

Last year’s polesitter Ben Spies gave up the top spot late in the session

27 year-old Texan Ben Spies led for the majority of the afternoon practice session on the Yamaha Factory bike. His best time of 1’40.918 was an improvement of over two seconds from his earlier FP1 time, as the entire category improved significantly on their morning session efforts as grip levels stepped up.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who won last year’s Indianapolis GP, followed Spies in third with a time of 1’41.205. Andrea Dovizioso’s fifth quickest 1’41.536 meant 3 Repsol Hondas in Friday’s top 5.

2009 Indy winner Jorge Lorenzo was fourth quickest

Texan Colin Edwards is sixth

Marco Simoncelli is seventh with a best time of 1’41.742

Kentucky Kid Nicky Hayden (above) is 8th for Ducati, bettering teammate Valentino Rossi (below) stuck in 11th

Corsi Fast and Wild in Moto2

Despite—or perhaps because of—this crash, Simone Corsi was quickest Moto2 rider on Friday

Ioda Racing Project rider Simone Corsi leapt to the top of the timings from 23rd place in the final five minutes of the second Moto2 outing with a lap of 1’46.274. Like the MotoGP riders who went out before them the Moto2 class improved on their morning times considerably, and Corsi’s effort came despite a crash earlier in the session from which he recovered admirably.

Marc Márquez recovered from a crash he had at the end of FP1 to finish 0.065s behind Corsi, putting the Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider in second for the day, while Ioda Racing Project team mate Mattia Pasini posted the third quickest time, a 1’46.448.

Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) gradually made his way to the front, posting a time of 1’46.453 to rank him fourth in the session, after a slow start of the day saw him finish the first practice outing in 16th. Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing), who had topped the morning session, finished fifth with a time of 1’46.574. The British rider was followed by Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar), who made big strides in his lap times, with fellow Spaniard Ricky Cardús (QMMF Racing Team) seventh. Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40), Mike di Meglio (Tech 3 Racing) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing Moto2) completed the top ten.

American wildcard Jake Gagne (GPTech) made an impressive showing, posting the 26th fastest time. Kenan Sofuoglu of the Technomag-CIP team did not participate in the afternoon session after a fall in FP1 resulted in a foot injury.

Nico Terol (photo by MotoGP)

Last year’s Indianapolis 125cc race winner Nico Terol set the fastest lap of the day after pushing hard and running off into the grass earlier in the afternoon session. The Spaniard’s best time of 1’49.381 was 0.774s faster than Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) in second.

Zarco, who had stepped into the lead in the final five minutes, bettered his earlier time on his last lap by 1.818s with a time of 1’50.155. The French rider just edged ahead of Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) by a thousandth of a second to put the Spaniard, whose first World Championship podium was achieved at the last round in Brno, third in the times.

Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) posted the fourth quickest time of the day with a 1’50.318, followed by the fourth Spanish rider in the top five Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo), who had led the beginning of the outing to finally post a best lap of 1’50.578.

Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) was sixth, followed by Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar), Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) upon his return to action, rookie Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) and Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), who had a crash on the last lap, to complete the top ten.