Marquez and Honda on Song for Indianapolis
MotoGP Round 10 Indianapolis Preview:
MotoGP reconvenes this weekend at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway following the summer break, with Honda men Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) aiming for the marque’s historic 700th Grand Prix win.
After bouncing back from a troubled start to 2015, Marquez closed off the first half of the season with victory in Germany, claiming Honda’s 698th GP success; 54 years after the first in the 1961 125cc race on Barcelona’s Montjuic Park street circuit.
It was the Honda’s defending double champion’s second pole-to-checker win of 2015, and more importantly marked a return to the devastating form that took the former 125 and Moto2 champion to successive premier-class titles in 2013 and 2014.
At the previous race, the 22-year-old from Cervera had also claimed pole, and missed victory only after coming off second best in a last-corner collision with title leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). It was proof enough for rider and team that a new combination of chassis and suspension had been a major step forward, after three race crashes had spoiled his score.
Marquez is currently fourth overall, lagging by 65 points. But with nine races left and the potential that his rivals may yet face their own problems, he has definitely not given up hope of a third MotoGP championship in a row.
The Indy omens are good: Marquez has won at the circuit for the past four years, in both Moto2 and MotoGP, and was on pole every year except 2012.
Second factory Honda rider Pedrosa also has a strong record at the venue. He won the MotoGP race in 2010 and 2012, and added two second places. Pedrosa, from the outskirts of Barcelona, is also on the road back up the championship charts, after missing three races early in the year for arm-pump surgery.
Pedrosa – a former 125 and double 250 World Champion – has also shown strongly improving form as he regained strength, on the podium at round seven in Catalunya, and second at the last race in Germany to give the Repsol Honda team its first one-two of the year. Refreshed after the three-weekend summer break, both riders arrive in America ready to fight.
The better of two riders campaigning the powerful V4 Honda MotoGP prototype in satellite teams is former 600 Supersport World Champion and Honda newcomer Cal Crutchlow (CWM LCR Honda RC213V), lying eighth overall after one third and one fourth place among a string of top-ten finishes. The English rider has a best of fifth at Indianapolis, and was eighth last year.
Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) moved up to a Factory-spec bike following his debut MotoGP season on an Open Honda, and has been finding his feet after a difficult start on the more powerful machine, with a best so far of seventh. The 2013 Moto2 championship runner-up is hoping for a step forward at a favorite track, where he was twice a podium finisher in Moto2, and ninth last year, easily the top non-factory finisher.
Honda also supplies four riders in the second-tier Open category, with RC213V-RS machines using simpler electronics supplied by the organizers.
Class rookie Jack Miller (CWM LCR Honda RC213V-RS) is best so far. The 20-year-old Australian has scored points four times with a best of 11th. Next-best RC213V-RS rider is 33-year-old veteran Nicky Hayden (Aspar Honda RC213V-RS), who was Honda’s MotoGP champion in 2006. Hayden has twice scored points, and also has a best of 11th.
One point behind is Hayden’s team-mate Eugene Laverty (Aspar Honda RC213V-RS), a former 250 racer but MotoGP rookie. He has shown improving form, with three finishes inside the points.
Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS) will not race at Indianapolis, the fourth race he has missed after a foot injury required reconstructive surgery. His place will be taken by former Moto2 champion and MotoGP race winner Toni Elias, who won the 2010 Moto2 race at Estoril.
In the Honda-powered Moto2 class one rider has emerged head and shoulders above the rest. Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) has won three times, and has been second or third at every other race but for the first, where a gear-linkage issue dropped him out of a strong lead. Zarco heads the title charts by 65 points.
His closest rival is defending champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), with five podium finishes including one win. Spaniard Rabat, who won the Indy race in 2013, is the first Moto2 champion to stay on to defend his title since the class replaced the traditional 250cc category in 2010.
Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing Speed Up) won the second round and lies a close third overall; while class rookie Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) is only four points behind. Rins has yet to win, but has four podium finishes in his first season after moving up from Moto3.
Former 125 champion Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex) has one win this year, and is fifth overall. Belgian Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) moved up to sixth after his career first win at the last round in Germany, ahead of two-race winner Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex).
In Moto3 Honda’s NSF250RW holds the high ground, with six out of nine race wins so far, and a firm grasp on the top two championship positions. Honda has achieved a full-house rostrum lock-out at four races this year, including the last round in Germany.
While the racing is usually close, runaway title leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) has stretched out a massive 66-point advantage. He has won five races, and has only finished off the podium once, when he was a close fourth.
His closest rival is Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), yet to win although three times second. The young Italian is 22 points clear of two-race winner Miguel Oliveira (KTM).
Efren Vazquez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) is a close fifth overall, with four top-three finishes undermined by three race crashes. Rookie Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) is next best in seventh with two second places.
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 2.591-mile infield circuit dedicated to MotoGP is dwarfed by the massive banked oval track, with grandstand seating for 250,000 fans. The oval track’s famous “Yard of Bricks.”start-line is included in the MotoGP layout, first used in 2008.
Last year, the circuit was modified to make it more flowing and improve overtaking opportunities. Equally popular with the riders was a full resurface, where the original circuit had a mix of different surfacing compounds.
Honda has won the last five premier-class races at Indy, with Casey Stoner joining Pedrosa and Marquez on the role of honor.
Honda MotoGP rider quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
“It’s been great to have some time off to recuperate and recharge the batteries ready for the second half of the season. After the Misano test I went to Ibiza with some friends for a week, which was fantastic and much needed! Then we resumed our training schedule in order to prepare for the coming races. Now we are on our way to America for the Indianapolis GP. I love racing on American soil and appreciate the enthusiasm of all the fans. I like the Indy track: it can be tricky but as always we will work hard from Friday, and get back into our rhythm as quickly as possible!”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
“I feel relaxed and ready for the second half of the season after this brief summer break. We enjoyed a good end to the first half of the season, with a good race in Germany and then a productive test in Misano. Then I headed home and enjoyed some time on Lake Geneva with some friends, taking some important time away from it all. Even though I’ve been relaxing I’ve been continuing recuperation on my arm and then I started to get back into my training to be ready for Indy this week. I’ve had pretty good results at Indy in the past so my aim is to arrive there and fight again for the victory. It can be difficult to setup the bike here with the varying grip levels so we will have to pay attention to this.”
Cal Crutchlow, CWM LCR
“As per the majority of my colleagues I had three weeks off, combining some relaxation and some training, especially on my bicycle. We start the second part of the season in eighth in the standings, which is not the perfect result for me. We had three DNFs in the first part of the championship, so the intention is to close the gap to the top riders starting from Indianapolis. Honda is very competitive out there, but I am sure that Rossi, Lorenzo and the other guys recharged the batteries in the summer break, so it’s gonna be an interesting weekend.”
Scott Redding, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
“I really like the Indianapolis circuit, especially with the changes they’ve made to make it more flowing. It’s always been one of my favorites on the MotoGP calendar. The summer break has given us the opportunity to think about the first half of the season; it wasn’t the start we wanted, but at the Sachsenring we definitely made a step, so I hope in Indy we can start where we left off and continue to make improvements to the bike, my lap time and my consistency. I actually feel more confident now that I’ve had some time away from the paddock, so I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
Jack Miller, CWM LCR
“After Germany I flew back home to Townsville in Australia to spend some time off with my family and friends. It was great to return to the farm. I had a lot of fun on my motocross bike and dirt-track bike together with Danny Kent. I feel excited to start the second part of the season, and Indianapolis is a track where I reached the podium in Moto3 last year. As I said many times so far we are improving our condition race by race, and there’s still a good margin to climb up the Open Class standings.”
Nicky Hayden, Aspar
“I am excited to race at Indianapolis, my true home Grand Prix, which is really close to where I live. Unfortunately I had to miss it last year and it was tough to be there watching without being able to take part. It also means I haven’t had chance to evaluate the changes to the track myself yet although the feedback from the other riders was generally positive, so I’m looking forward to riding. We will be competing alongside the MotoAmerica boys, who will be riding from Thursday so there should be some rubber laid down for when we go out on Friday, which is good. It is no secret that the first half of the season has not gone as well as we’d hoped. I have had chance to rest up a little over the last three weeks and also get some training done. I am sure we will return at a higher level for the second half of the season.”
Eugene Laverty, Aspar
“I feel 100 percent ready for the second half of the season. My body really needed some time to recover from a few big crashes lately so the time off was a welcome break. I enjoyed one week of holiday to recharge and prepare myself for the remaining nine races. I’ve learned a lot during the first half of my rookie season which ought to set us up for a strong end to the year. Things have been up and down but I’m confident that our speed is there to challenge regularly for Open class honors from here on. Indianapolis kicks off the second half of the season and the track looks fun to ride. I’m excited to see my bike again after a month apart!”
Toni Elias, AB Motoracing
“I am very happy to be back even if it is only for one race. I wish for Karel to recover soon and to be with his team back on the track. I must express my thanks to the AB Motoracing team and Honda for this opportunity. I hope to not have many problems to adapt to the bike and tires, although I have never ridden an Open class bike. Last week I raced in the Suzuka 8-Hours and did lot of kilometers on Bridgestone tires, which are very similar to the MotoGP tires. I am looking forward to work with the team for four days, sharing our experience to meet the target and get a good position. Last month seems to me like a dream. I haven’t raced for ten months, but a few weeks ago I got the opportunity to race at Suzuka and now I am back in MotoGP paddock. It´s incredible and I must thank Honda and the team again.”
Honda Moto2 rider quotes
Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport
“Indy is a really nice place to race, but it’s difficult to be fast and consistent all through the race. The good thing is that I am getting stronger by understanding my weaknesses. During the first part of the season we were able to fight for the victory at nearly every race, so I hope we can go into the second half with the same speed.”
Tito Rabat, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
“We head to Indianapolis after three weeks of relaxing on holiday, and now we will see how my rhythm and collarbone are going. I have been training over the break and I feel strong, but we will see. My approach is the same; focus on what we need to do at Indianapolis, work with the team to make sure we have the most competitive package for the race and then try to finish as close to the front as possible.”
Sam Lowes, Speed Up Racing
“I spent the three weeks mainly training and relaxing, with some off-road riding and pit-bike action thrown in. Also some golf – it’s very different from racing, but I really enjoy it. I thoroughly enjoyed Indianapolis last year, considering it was my first time there, so I will be hoping to get back on the podium to kick off the second half of the season in the best possible way. So far this year has been very positive for us, and the potential is even higher than we have shown.”
Honda Moto3 rider quotes
Danny Kent, Leopard Racing
“For the three weeks off I went to Australia to have a small break and to train with my buddy Jack (Miller). I had a great time there but now I’m ready to get back on my Honda and start racing again. The first half of the season has gone amazing, we’ve done really hard work and the result is shown by a 66 points lead, so now we just have to be clever and just try to maintain a good points lead for the remaining races. The plan for me as always is to try and win every time, and to be as strong during the second half of the yeas as I was till the break, if not even stronger, because my favorite circuits are still to come. This weekend Honda can get their 700th Grand Prix win and I would love to be the rider to help achieve that!”
Enea Bastianini, Junior Team Gresini Moto3
“Last year at Indy my race weekend was a bit unlucky, compromised by a run off the track in the early stages of the race. However, in the latter part I managed to maintain a strong pace, reaching the leading group, so this means that I like the track. We arrive in the United States really confident and aware that we can do well. In the summer break I was able to relax myself, even though of course I continued to train hard: after a positive first half of the season, closing with second place in the standings. Our goal in this second part of the season is to make a further step forward in order to try to beat Kent, who so far has been really fast.”
Efren Vazquez, Leopard Racing
“I’m really looking forward to Indianapolis because I won my first-ever Grand Prix there last year. So memories of this track are really, really good, but also the motivation to start the second half of the season is high, not only because of our strong performance in Germany, resulting in a fine second place. I trained hard during the break to be well prepared for the remaining nine races and in doing so I think I’ve got my physical condition back to 100 percent, compared to the first half of the season. Now I can concentrate on fighting for second place in the championship. The gap to second place isn’t that big. The target is to fight for race wins and further podiums in every remaining race, starting with Indianapolis this weekend.”