Stoner tops timesheets in Indy as new tarmac improves throughout first day
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner finished at the top of the timesheets after the first day of running at Indianapolis, setting a best of 1m 40.724s on his last lap of this afternoon’s 45-minute free practice session.
Throughout the day the laptimes tumbled as the new tarmac improved as more rubber was laid down and the track was cleaned by the MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc classes, plus support races. The 1.5miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that have been repaved in time for this event started off slippery and by the end of the morning free practice Ben Spies was at the top of the timesheets but over three seconds off last year’s pole time of 1m 40.105s.
During this first session, the softer front and rear slicks were favoured for the extra grip they gave on the dirty and slippery surface. Evidence of the track’s improvement as it started to rubber-in came this afternoon. As most riders switched to the harder front with the softer rear, Stoner’s time was 2.5seconds faster than Spies’ best of the morning. After two sessions on the new surface Stoner has lapped faster than last year’s race fastest lap, and judging by the improvement in times today it should continue to get faster tomorrow.
The weather today was hot and dry, and although the fastest times were set on the harder option front slick tyre, it was the softer rear that was favoured throughout the day for its extra grip, especially beneficial on the new tarmac. Whilst Indianapolis is very demanding of the left side of the tyres, there were no issues with rear tyre durability even of the softer compound, suggesting it is a viable option for race distance on Sunday with current track conditions.
Running for the MotoGP class resumes tomorrow morning at 1010hrs local time with the third and final free practice session before the afternoon’s hour of qualifying.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“We can clearly see by the times today that the new tarmac here at Indy is improving with every lap as more and more rubber is laid down and it gets cleaner; especially the infield which is rarely used. New tarmac is usually quite slippery and needs plenty of use to lose its new sheen and become less slippery. Based on today, the times will be faster again tomorrow and likely again on Sunday. Whilst our engineers visited Indianapolis after the Grand Prix at Laguna Seca earlier in the year to analyse and assess the new tarmac here, today is the first time we have run around it on MotoGP tyres so it was a relative unknown for everybody but I am generally happy with tyre performance. We experienced some rear tyre graining this morning but as the track changed this was almost no problem by the afternoon but instead with more rear grip the front tyre started pushing more. The track is changing significantly so adjusting the setup and tyre choice correctly each session is crucial but tricky and tomorrow morning’s practice will be especially important.”