Rizla Suzuki MotoGP wildcard rider Ben Spies recorded the fifth fastest time during yesterday afternoon’s qualifying practice for today’s Indianapolis Grand Prix, to give him a second row start in only his third MotoGP race.
Spies (1’41.464, 25 laps) worked closely with the same team that attended this year’s earlier test at Indianapolis, to continually improve on his lap-times throughout both the dry practice session this morning and this afternoon’s qualifying. Spies’s time was only 0.287 seconds from a front row start and gives the AMA Superbike Champion a great chance to capitalise during tomorrow’s 28-lap race.
Loris Capirossi (P13, 1’42.305, 25 laps) and Chris Vermeulen (P15, 1’42.551, 25 laps) will both start from the fifth row of the grid after the pair had a difficult qualifying session for various reasons. Capirossi is still looking for the best setting on his Suzuki GSV-R, and although he believes he is making headway he still hasn’t quite found the set-up he is looking for to be as competitive as he would like around the 4,216m circuit.
Vermeulen looked likely to qualify much higher up the grid following impressive lap times on race tyres in both sessions, but the Australian crashed on his second qualifying tyre. Vermeulen was uninjured in the fall and although he was able to get back to the pit-box in time to complete the session he just couldn’t find the rhythm on his other bike to improve on the earlier time.
Today’s qualifying session was held in dry and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 46ºC. Pole position was taken by current championship leader Valentino Rossi.
Tomorrow’s race is the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix and the bikes will take to the track to start the race at 15.00hrs local time (19.00hrs GMT). Heavy rain and storms are forecast for race day and it is hoped that the proposed path of Hurricane Ike can turn a corner and the weather will be good for a competitive and exciting race.
“It was a good session this afternoon and we tried various things on both bikes. I went back to the primary bike that we had done most work on and looked at the race set-up until we were happy with that and then put on the qualifiers. I just went faster and faster every time I went out, those Bridgestone qualifiers are just unbelievable and it took me a time to find the limit of them, so I am sure I could go quicker with a bit more time using them! Fifth place is a good spot and the second row will be a good place to start - if the weather is going to be as bad as they say - so that I can be ahead of any of the drama that might happen. I am now really looking forward to the race because everything has gone well so far this weekend.”
“Today was a little better compared to yesterday, but we still struggled a bit. We changed a lot of the settings today and then the bike started to work much better. During qualifying I made a good couple of runs on the first two tyres, but then I made mistakes on the last two and lost the laps. I feel a lot more positive now though compared to yesterday and the settings we now have will work if it is wet or dry tomorrow – but obviously we hope it is the same as today.”
“With such limited dry set-up time it has been quite difficult to get everything done, we had to test tyres, get the bike working as well as we can and then go quick on the qualifiers. We made some steps with the bike on race tyres and things felt quite comfortable. My lap-times were good and when we put in the first qualifier we made another big-step with that. Unfortunately on the second qualifier I made a mistake and crashed, that caused me to lose time coming back to the pits and my other bike was set-up differently so I couldn’t improve on my time. I have to say sorry to the guys for messing up the bike because they have done such a great job again this weekend. In truth we should be further up the grid, but we’ll give it 100% in the race tomorrow and see what happens!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Congratulations to Ben, he’ll be starting on the second row tomorrow and that should give him a great chance in only his third Grand Prix. He’s done a great job so far this weekend and let’s hope the potential he has shown can continue into tomorrow. Chris and Loris’s qualifying was less successful for different reasons. Chris showed good pace on race tyres, but a decent sized crash on his second qualifying run meant he had to swap to the spare bike and he just couldn’t improve as it was difficult for him to get the feel immediately. Loris has had a difficult weekend so far for a number of technical reasons and although it got quite a bit better today there is still a lot of work to do to get things improved for the race tomorrow”
Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix Qualifying Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’40.776: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.084: 3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.401: 4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +0.495: 5. BEN SPIES (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.688: 13. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.529: 15. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.775: