MotoGP: Final Thoughts from Indianapolis While the Circus Sets Up in Misano


What Happens When the Show Puts on a Good Show

12:02pm EST — While some would say the premier class race lacked some of the drama it could have had (a hurricane? riders crashing out of the lead?), the third weekend at Indianapolis for MotoGP had plenty of excitement in other ways.  Valentino Rossi, likely returning a mite too early and too weak to save any number of slides, crashed so often he ran out of the Fiat 500 special livery leathers and had to race in his standard set, after which he noted that the heat and humidity this past weekend at Indy was like racing in Sepang.  Jorge Lorenzo did not, as he so often recently has, dominate the race after the first lap and run away with another twenty-five points in his championship drawer, leaving that duty to Spainsh rival Dani Pedrosa.  Importantly for the home crowd, Ben Spies won his first ever MotoGP pole with Nicky Hayden putting two Americans on the front row for the start.  His race was too soon compromised by a lose drain cover and flapping slider that left him to finish in sixth (see pictures from the race through the fence here).  But it was the sadness of the death of Peter Lenz due to injuries sustained on the warm-up lap of the MotoGPRU morning race and the elbows-legs-and-bike-bits flying of two Moto2 starts that will stick with those who attended and watched from home (see the Moto2 pictures and paddock life on Sunday here).

Speaking of attendance, it appeared down from both the inaugural race in 2008 and from last year as well, despite stellar, though hot, weather.  There were few enough fans that one could walk away from a spot on the fence at pit-out/Turn 2 in the middle of the main race and walk right back to the same opening five minutes later, as no one had filled in to take it.  That was certainly not the case during a hurricane in 2008.  Still, die-hard fans were around, going so far as to bid and pay $800 for the hat off Rossi’s head, then signed by him, during the Riders for Health auction (Saturday on-track and paddock pictures available here).

There were any number of other fan activities, from Spies and roommate Roger Lee Hayden, who was a wildcard Moto2 entry for American Honda, in a team managed by (also present) Kevin Schwantz interviewed at the war monument (see Thursday pictures from Indy here) in downtown to James Toseland and his band crash performing both downtown and at the circuit.  Riders were to be found wandering the city (Jorge Lorenzo has a taste for sushi while Spies celebrated his podium with family and entourage at St. Elmo’s Sunday night, likely leaving before his 2011 team’s mechanics and crew sat down to eat, if they don’t go to Ducati with Rossi) and the paddock at the Indy Mile dirt track Saturday.  Hayden did three exhibition laps at the Indiana Sate Fairgrounds after his Ducati contract announcement, with the fastest quick enough to qualify for a front row start to a heat race (pictures from the Indy Mile available here).  Fans were given special treatment Friday with access to the pit lane Friday morning and the ability to watch the teams clean and polish the bikes (pitwalkabout pictures available here), having already set up everything possible and not yet run any laps on the track.

In the end, the Indy race weekend, as all race weekends, gave one a better glimpse of the capabilities of the circuit and the riders that make up the MotoGP circus.  Lorenzo is very good but not perfect.  Pedrosa can run away with a race, if he can keep it together.  A little home race momentum never hurt anybody, until their leathers rip apart.  Come back from injury as soon as you are able, but know when that actually is.  and, Moto2 is officially mad, but everyone knew that already.  For everyone else, it’s past time to be in Misano.  Regular MotoGP race coverage will resume from the sofa in Pennsylvania, and better coverage will occur from the next race attended.

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