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How the MotoGP standings shape up ahead of a first Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The latest round of the MotoGP World Championship sees an exciting new track join the MotoGP calendar, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosting its first ever World Championship race. The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year, and the second visit stateside for the MotoGP riders.
Taking place on September 14th, the maiden Indianapolis race promises to be a late-summer blockbuster, with the previous thirteen rounds having provided some breathtaking and unpredictable action. The 2008 world title still up for grabs, the riders will, as always, be going all-out for victory and the honour of becoming the first winner of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Series leader Valentino Rossi has made a career out of breaking records and reaching new milestones, and on September 14th he has another possibility of prestige; Following victory at Misano, Indianapolis is now the only circuit on the calendar at which `The Doctor´ has not crossed the line first. Last time out, Rossi took Italy´s 700th Grand Prix victory, broke his Misano jinx and equalled the record for premier class wins set by MotoGP Legend Giacomo Agostini but, most importantly, he also edged one step closer to a sixth MotoGP World Championship.
Three wins for Rossi in as many races have extended his lead in the overall classification, making things difficult for title rival Casey Stoner. The gap between the two stands at 75 points, with Stoner having crashed out of the last two Grands Prix, whilst pushing for victory. The Australian is not one to give up, taking a seventh consecutive pole at Misano despite a re-opening of a scaphoid injury, and needs to put points on the board at each of the remaining rounds if he is to reel in his Fiat Yamaha nemesis. The reigning World Champion had the battle of the season with Rossi at the last American race in Laguna Seca, and the title fight could provide fans with an instant classic at Indianapolis.
Whilst the gap between Rossi and Stoner has been extended in recent weeks, that which separates the Ducati rider from Repsol Honda´s Dani Pedrosa has been reduced to just two points. The Spaniard will be making his debut on Bridgestone tyres at the Indianapolis race, having announced a shock switch from Michelin immediately after the San Marino showdown. He has had just five hours of testing time with the new rubber.
Jorge Lorenzo lies fourth in the standings after his podium return, the runner-up behind Fiat Yamaha teammate Rossi last time out. He in turn leads fellow MotoGP rookie Andrea Dovizioso and Rizla Suzuki´s Chris Vermeulen in the top six.
Colin Edwards is the highest placing home rider heading to the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, ahead of Shinya Nakano, Loris Capirossi and his own Tech 3 Yamaha teammate James Toseland. There is no space in the top ten for 2006 World Champion and the man who inaugurated the new circuit, Nicky Hayden, with the rider from nearby Owensboro, Kentucky, having missed the last two races with a heel injury.
The only rider competing at Indianapolis to have experience of the track with an 800cc bike (Hayden´s laps at the IMS Speedway came onboard a Honda CBR1000 and a 1909 Indian, respectively) Ben Spies makes what is scheduled to be his final wildcard appearance of the year for Rizla Suzuki. The reigning AMA Superbike champion is angling for a regular MotoGP ride in 2009, and a strong showing in his third World Championship race could further attract interest from a number of teams.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most famous racing circuits in the world, and the site of the largest single-day sporting event; the Indy 500. The first event held at the `Brickyard´, so called because of its original track surface, was a motorcycle race, but since then it has become predominantly a car-racing venue.
The new 2,618 mile course designed for the arrival of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix was completed earlier this year, and includes parts of both the existing oval and Formula 1 tracks, most notably the photogenic `line of bricks´ that marks the start/finish line.
Running in an anticlockwise direction, the track does not, however, use any of the banked corners present on the oval circuit.
The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix takes place on September 14th, with the first MotoGP practice sessions at the IMS track occurring on the preceding Friday.
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