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GP Week : Issue 28
HIGH SIDES n Colin Edwards suggested a novel new tradition for Indy winners, following those set by car racers, of kissing the bricks, or climbing the fence: “Just get naked and run down the front straight. Start it here. I'll do it!”he said. Luckily for all, his 15th finishing spot was not enough to trigger the parade. Rossi had a better idea: “I think for all the people, it’s better if my umbrella girl gets naked …” n The new Indy track followed the F1 layout, but in reverse, and with tight corners introduced before and after the main straight, which follows the oval track with its daunting wall. n The massive Indy facility impressed everybody, but as Rossi pointed out: “We are just racing in the garden ..." n The most exciting finish of the weekend was not at the Speedway, but at the revived Indy Mile at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. MotoGP denizens flocked to the track to watch the oval- trackers on their Harleys, and had their breath taken away when veteran Chris Carr won by 0.030 seconds. n Nicky Hayden was still on crutches, nursing his heel injury, but opined that Indy would be easier than Misano, because it was a left-hand circuit. He turned out to be right. n At most new race- tracks, riders can learn the layout before they get their using the Sony PlayStation … but there was no such facility for Indianapolis. Unless, as Stoner pointed out, “you could go round the F1 track backwards … but I don’t think you can do that on the PlayStation!” 12 Indy comes up to scratch FEARS of problems and the low expectations of the MotoGP paddock were overturned on arrival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the track got a general thumbs up from the riders, and the organisation proved streets ahead of that at Laguna Seca, where there are regularly difficulties of various kinds. Although there will need to be changes made to the track for the future, on safety grounds, most riders agreed with Jorge Lorenzo’s comments, at the end of two days of practice where the first day had been all but wiped out by bad weather: “I enjoyed it more than I thought. I expected it to be dangerous, but on the bike you don’t feel it. And with the corners so close together, it’s good for my riding style.” For Valentino Rossi, the track reminded him of Rio, “and I loved Rio. The layout is good … a lot of difficult corners in a row.” Fears that the run out of the final corner would bring riders too close to the outer wall proved groundless: the corner is very tight and slow, and there is ample run-off. Makeshift kerbing of steel plate on the exit also proved grippy enough to be used for a fast launch. But the situation was more worrying at Turn Five, a very fast left-hander, where, as Stoner said: “The run-off is very short,” adding: “In a leather suit on wet grass, if you fall there it feels like you accelerate.” He suggested air-fence be installed. One reservation was the mix of tarmac surfaces. The older section, using the main straight of the oval as well as the track used for F1 – although in reverse direction – had excellent grip both wet and dry. But the new section, Turns One through Four (pictured), was shiny and slippery, as well as badly drained, collecting deep puddles on the rainy first day. Stoner: “The conditions vary drastically between the old surface and the new. Grip is good on the old stuff, but there isn’t even minimum grip on the recently laid asphalt, and the rain makes it much worse because it isn’t draining off.” He and other riders, including Hayden, opined that if race day was as rainy as the first day of practice, the race would have to be cancelled. The big bikes made it, but for the 250s it was curtains ...