Indianapolis GP: Ducati preview

MOTOGP SET TO MAKE HISTORIC DEBUT AT INDIANAPOLIS On Friday 12th September, with an extended free practice session of an hour and a half, the MotoGP World Championship will take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. The...

MOTOGP SET TO MAKE HISTORIC DEBUT AT INDIANAPOLIS

On Friday 12th September, with an extended free practice session of an hour and a half, the MotoGP World Championship will take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. The mere mention of the legendary venue, built back in 1909, stirs the passion of fans all over the world, who consider it a temple of speed and a theatre of motorsport dreams made famous by the Indy 500-mile car race.

The popularity of MotoGP in the USA is on the rise and it is no coincidence that, alongside Spain and Italy, America is one of only three countries to host more than one Grand Prix over the course of the season. Circuit organisers are predicting weekend crowds of over 150,000, amongst which will be Ducatisti representing the 60 Ducati Clubs across America. They will make their presence felt at Indy, taking over an entire grandstand to show their support for Casey Stoner and Marco Melandri

The Australian travels on the back of two disappointing races, in which he has once again demonstrated his undoubted speed but has been unable to turn it into a solid result. However, Stoner remains as competitive as ever and he is determined to prove it over the final five races of the season - starting at Indy.

Marco Melandri has shown improvements over the past few weekends and has set himself the target of a better starting position as he looks to consolidate his progress with a top race result this weekend.

LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP Project Director

"Just to walk into the legendary Indy circuit for the first time will be a huge emotion. Casey has an incredible ability to adapt to new things so I think he can do really well on a circuit that is unknown to everybody. We're hoping that the problems he had with his wrist at Misano don't prevent him from riding at his maximum this weekend. Casey underwent a CAT scan last week, which showed that the scaphoid he fractured and had operated on back in 2003 has never completely healed. With the support of a pool of doctors over the next few weeks, Casey will decide if another operation is going to be necessary. Marco has improved his feeling with the Ducati over the past few races so I hope this trend continues until the end of the season."

CASEY STONER (Ducati MotoGP Team) 2nd overall on 187 points (-75)

"Obviously I'm not happy with the results of the last few races. We have proved that we are consistently fast but that clearly isn't enough. I know that I have got the support of a great team and a bike I have a great feeling with. I'm going to try to enjoy riding it over the final few races, which all take place at circuits I like a lot. I also have to think about the scaphoid that we thought had healed back in 2003 but is still giving me problems. For the time being I have to deal with it but we're talking to the doctors about what to do with it in the future. I can't wait to go back to America and race at Indianapolis, a circuit nobody knows but where I am sure our bike and tyres will work just as well as they have done at the last few races."

MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati MotoGP Team) 14th overall on 48 points (-214)

"I'm really happy to be going to Indy because it is a new circuit for everybody and America is a country I love, where I always feel comfortable. Indianapolis is in a part of the United States that I've never visited so I'm also excited about that. Having said that I think it's going to be a challenging race for a variety of reasons. For example they say that the grip levels change a lot over the course of the lap and that makes it tricky. I've also heard the layout is a little dangerous but until we get there and get chance to have a look at it in person there's no point making guesses. Personally I feel motivated because we've made progress over the last few rounds and improved my feeling with the bike over the first few laps of a race. I hope I can qualify well and start a little higher up the grid."

THE TRACK

The MotoGP circuit will use only a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, namely a large section of the start-finish straight and part of the south-eastern corner of the oval. The rest of the track is on the infield, a modified version of the tight and twisty F1 layout but running in the opposite direction. The surface has been re-laid recently and the teams and riders are hopeful that tyre tests carried out in July will have at least laid some rubber down. Eighteen big screens will allow the fans to watch the action from every angle from Friday morning, when the MotoGP riders will have a 90-minute first free practice session to get used to the circuit.

RECORD

Circuit Record: N/A
Best Pole: N/A
Circuit Length: 4.216km
MotoGP Race 2008: 28 laps
MotoGP Timetable 2008: 15:00h (CET -6)

-credit: ducati.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner