Rossi grabs headlines ahead of Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix2012-08-16 19:05
Speaking publically for the first time since announcing his return to Yamaha at the end of 2012 last week, Valentino Rossi joined championship leader and future teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl at the MotoGP™ press conference on Thursday marking the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who heads into the race with a 23 point lead, is looking forward to welcoming Rossi back into the team, yet is fully focused on the race ahead: “In 2009 I won, but in the last two years it has been one of my worst races. Of course it’s going to be tough. We all know that Casey and Dani are very strong this year. We are also strong, stronger than last year, and have been consistent in the first two positions. This is our strong point and why we are leading the championship.”
On the prospect of the renewed partnership, and whether there would be another wall put up in the garage, the Mallorcan commented: “I think it’s interesting to see how we can handle Valentino and me in the same team and on the same bike. I’ll be interested to see what’s going on, and for me it’s a great pleasure to be teammates with him again. I always say the wall is a stupid thing. It doesn't make sense for anything. No wall is OK for me and I think for Vale this time.”
Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner stated that the Indianapolis circuit should suit him and his team, and was also quick to clarify statements in the press about comments he supposedly made about Rossi’s switch last week: “I want to clarify that. That was a lot of context taken out. It was the whole last year and a half. I never did the interview and never said anything like that last week. I still stand by what I said, but it's been over the last year and a half that it was put together.”
Regarding the season so far and the race he said: “It’s been very difficult to get on top of him [Jorge Lorenzo], and we have our own issues and problems with the bike that we really need to resolve. Laguna was good for us because it went round to the left, and we have a lot less issues when we go round a left-hand circuit. We’ll have to see how we can do here again. It’s going the right direction for us. But unfortunately when the track does go to the left we ignore a lot of the problems that are created when they go back to the right. We’ve got a long way to go. We lost a lot of points in a very short amount of time through no fault other than my own.”
Ducati Team’s Rossi, who last Friday revealed he will be leaving the Italian outfit at the end of the year to je-join Yamaha, the team with which he won four world titles, explained his decision: “After Laguna I had a break and I had more time to think deeper about my future. It’s a great pity for me and Ducati and all our fans, but especially for the guys that worked with me on this project. We try to be competitive – an Italian rider with and Italian bike, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. These two seasons have been very difficult and we have struggled a lot unfortunately. We were not able to improve our speed and our performance and to fight for the good positions. So for this I decided it was enough and so I tried to think which was the most competitive bike for the next two years that might be the last of my career. It’s a great pity and I’m very sad also because in Ducati I found some great people and we had a lot of great times together. We tried the maximum.”
With regards to re-igniting his partnership with former foe Lorenzo, the Italian commented: “Yeah, will be interesting. Now the situation has changed a lot compared to the past, compared to 2008 when Jorge arrive to Yamaha. Now he's the No. 1 in the team, and our relationship is good. I have respect for him, and he has respect for me. So I think we can stay together. I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha, to try to achieve good result in the next seasons.”
Rossi also confirmed that he will be taking his crew with him, and that he may even stay beyond 2014 should his move pan out well: “So I think my crew will come with me. More or less the same guys that came with me from Yamaha to Ducati. But is still not decided 100 per cent. And about my future, it will depend a lot on the result of the next two seasons. Because I want to remain more than two seasons in MotoGP but that depends how strong I am and if I'm fast with the M1.”
His teammate Nicky Hayden spoke about the prospect of racing in front of his home crowd, and also gave his thoughts on Rossi’s potential replacement: “Laguna’s close, but this one I really consider my home race now, being just across the state line in Kentucky. Indy’s a great track, especially now it’s re-paved it’s gotten a lot better, so looking forward to hopefully having a good weekend. I’m looking forward to the future partnership with Audi. I know it’ll be tough to make ay changes in the short term. But it’s an exciting time, and hopefully it’s going to play out for us in terms of financially and technical term with lots of resources, which is something we can hopefully build on. Yeah, if it's [Rossi’s replacement] Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso], I think he's probably the best choice out there. He's got good experience coming from me. I'm happy. Spent years at Honda, then now Yamaha, and now come there. I think his experience can be beneficial to our engineers.”
The American also commented on loosing Rossi as a teammate for the second time in his career: “We’ve had a good relationship. I’m not going to be in tears over it. As great as it would have been to see Vale at the front with the Ducati, it just hasn’t happened. As good as it would have been for the sport him winning on a Ducati, him being at the front on anything I think we’ll all benefit from.”
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who has competed at Indy before, unlike at the last U.S. round, is looking for his first GP podium, but knows how tough that is: “It’s not so bad, but it’s not fantastic. Fantastic would be to be on the podium every race. But we can be happy; I’m happy so far. We’re improving every time and so far we have not been making too many mistakes, which is important for the first season; to learn as much as I can. Yes I know the track. It’s an ok track for me, but not one of my favourites.
Away from the press conference, there were some other activities the MotoGP™ riders and colleagues were able to enjoy before a busy weekend of racing.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison were joined by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, Bridgestone Motorsport Department Manager Hiroshi Yamada at the Brickyards Crossing Golf Course for a spot of pre race-action golf featuring a longest drive and putting contest hosted by official MotoGP™ tyre supplier Bridgestone.
And slightly further adrift, riders from all three classes, including Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, Yamaha’s Ben Spies, LCR Honda Stefan Bradl, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez, Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró, Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese, Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales, RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom and AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin enjoyed a very American day out as they were taught by former Indianapolis Indians players how to play baseball in the grand setting of Victoria Field, Downtown Indianapolis, trying to hit a “home run”!
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