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GP Week : Issue 28
>>Moto GPINDIANAPOLIS A giant leap for MotoGP in the States… … but will it remove Rossi’s final obscurity haven? Michael Scott MotoGP editor Will MotoGP racing ever catch on in the USA? Will any kind of Grand Prix racing? And should it? It used to be there was nothing like a visit to America by the cream of European racing, on two or four wheels, to cut the kings of all classes down to size. Or to emphasise the division between that great country and the rest of the world, when it comes to pretty much any sort of cultural activity that is not generated in Hollywood. It started out looking the same for Indy. Look what happened when F1 tried to get established there. And now consider the experience of Valentino Rossi, the greatest god there has ever been in the two-wheel firmament. It was five years ago that I asked him, in an interview, is there is anything he would like to change about himself. “My face,”he replied. “I’d like to know what it is like not to be Valentino Rossi.” At that time, he had moved to London, at least nominally and for tax reasons, where he was able to go out and about without being recognised and mobbed. Since then, the price of his fame has become even greater: there is nowhere in Europe that Rossi can go without the same thing happening. In the week before the Indy race, Vale visited New York for the first time. And guess what: nobody knew who the hell he was. He could walk around like you or I, without being Valentino Rossi. And he loved it. Soaking rain in the van of Hurricane Ike suggested that crowd figures at Indianapolis might just slump. Some thought that even balmy sunshine and a free hot-dog for every visitor would not have made much of a dent on the 300,000 seating capacity of the awe-inspiring Brickyard stadium. How differently it turned out. Even qualifying drew a crowd of 50,000, more than came to the race at Laguna Seca this year … which had been counted as a great success. On race day, 91,000 braved the awful conditions. What a triumph! Dorna has attached huge importance to developing the US market, and could only claim partial success at Laguna. Indy’s figures suggest that they were simply starting in the wrong place. 43 opinion