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Riders re-group as Indianapolis weekend begins

Riders re-group as Indianapolis weekend begins

Following three weekends of no MotoGP™ action, Thursday officially marked the start of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix with the pre-event press conference.

2013 rookie Marc Marquez leads the championship heading into the second half of the season, but is now poised to resume battle with Repsol Honda Team partner Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, both nearing full fitness following collarbone-breaking crashes across the Dutch and German GP weekends.

“Now we start the second half and we have recharged our batteries over the summer,” Marquez says. “It will be difficult and interesting because Dani and Jorge have recovered. It’s one of the tracks I seem to ride quite well, so I hope to do the same with the MotoGP bike. The conditions change a lot from first practice to the race, it’s so slippery. We will see how we will do with the Bridgestone tyres, but it will be the same for everybody. We will try to find our way, starting with FP1.”

“I have been doing some recovery these days,” Pedrosa adds. “Basically it was all about not moving a lot and staying quiet! The healing process is getting better and over these last days we have seen some signs of the bones recovering, so that is good. Now I’m just waiting to go out, checking how everything is on the bike.”

Having struggled to sixth place last time out in California, Lorenzo is sure that he will be capable of more in order to kick-start his second half of the campaign.

“Obviously I’m not like I was before Assen, but much better than Laguna,” explains the reigning World Champion. “I have spent the holiday trying to recover the collarbone, so let’s see how it goes. In fact, the holiday was stopped by the test (at Brno)! I think it was important to see how I was on the bike, as I wasn’t great at Laguna, so it was very important for the mind to feel how I was.”

At the aforementioned test, both Lorenzo and teammate Valentino Rossi sampled Yamaha’s version of a seamless transmission gearbox which they hope to race soon.

“For me, on one lap it doesn’t change a lot about the lap time,” Rossi elucidated. “We tried to make some comparisons. I think the big improvement is over 20 or 30 laps because the bike becomes easier to ride, more stable in acceleration and braking, plus less stress for the tyres and it’s very good for the riders because the bike becomes easier to bring up to the limit and less easy to make a mistake. The feeling is fantastic, it’s great to ride with that gearbox and the acceleration is very good. I don’t know when we could use it, but Jorge and I are pushing a lot because it is very good.”

Much of the media attention revolved around Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, who during the mid-season break was announced as having signed with Ducati Team for the next two campaigns, moving from Monster Yamaha Tech3. The Englishman has been with the Tech3 outfit since making his MotoGP debut at the start of 2011.

“After Laguna we decided that we were going to stay in America and take a break here, but it wasn’t too much of a break,” Crutchlow commented. “We had a busy first week and then we obviously released that I will be riding for Ducati next year. I am really pleased and it was nice to get that done, as we can now settle for the rest of the year and see how that goes.”

It was announced on Thursday that Stefan Bradl – pole-sitter and podium finisher last time out at Laguna Seca – will remain with LCR Honda MotoGP in 2014.

“I can say that I will continue with LCR next year, with good support from HRC which is most important,” Bradl confirmed. “It’s good for me and good for the team. I’m very happy with that. It is also good news for the second half of this season, going at the best speed we can from tomorrow and just trying to do the best job possible…everything is sorted now and it’s a great feeling, so let’s jump on the bike.”

The final of the seven riders present in Thursday’s press conference was Ben Spies, who due to injury has missed the last seven rounds of the World Championship.

“It’s been a rough year, to say the least,” said the Ignite Pramac Racing rider. “Now I feel good to finally be back and maybe not taking a job as commentator! I no longer have to tell the little white lies to all of the journalists than I’m ready to ride! Now we can get on with the business and start the season properly. The last time was Mugello, so we have a lot of cobwebs to dust off. As (Marc) Marquez says: step-by-step! It’s a good track to come back to, we have good memories here. We’ll just try to get faster with each session and see where we can end up over the next couple of weeks.”

The on-track action at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway will begin on Friday morning, with Free Practice 1 starting at 9am local time (GMT -4).


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