The impressively efficient press department at Indianapolis Motor Speedway collected and provided the following collection of quotes from fourteen of the seventeen MotoGP riders after the first session of free practice. Thanks to Paul Kelly and his staff for doing our job for us:
CASEY STONER (No. 27 Ducati Team, first): (Since you didn't run here last year, how hard was it to set up the motorcycle?): "We know genuinely the layout of the circuit. We know how the bike is going to react on a certain type – whether it's fast corners, slow corners, heavy braking or not. We had enough data from '08 just to start with, in general. There will be three or four different groups of circuits that we go to that we know what setup works. So we start with that rough idea; that's how we start every weekend. We'll know from previous years what roughly works on this style of circuit and then we just go from there. Out of the box it (the motorcycle) wasn't great. We tried one setting and completely went the wrong way, and it felt horrible. We came back and tried going a different direction and made another step and made it feel a little better, and we tried the last thing to make another improvement and sort of went backward again. We just have to go back and forth until we find that point where we're getting all aspects of the bike working."
JORGE LORENZO (No. 99 Fiat Yamaha Team, second): "Well, today we started in quite good shape. Casey made the runs quite fast. We'll see if he continues his position, and we can improve our lap time for tomorrow. But I think all the riders can improve for tomorrow." (On his dominant year): "Well, it's a dream. It's even better than I think I expected to get for the championship. So I enjoy it a lot to get good results. The main goal is to win the championship. Winning races is good. But my goal is to finish races and win the world title."
NICKY HAYDEN (No. 69 Ducati Team, third): "I got in a little bit hot and got offline. I thought I was OK and the front lost. But it was a relatively easy crash. Right out of the gate, the bike felt pretty good. The team made a change to the front fork this weekend. But it's only Friday. For the most part, the bike feels pretty good. We'll see. I love Indy. I mean, this place is in my backyard, practically. The track is awesome. The facility is great. The people are great, and I'm looking forward to a big weekend. It's still early, so I'll try to stay calm and get myself in a position for Sunday to try to do something. I need to qualify well tomorrow."
DANI PEDROSA (No. 26 Repsol Honda Team, fourth): "(Today) wasn't really perfect because at the beginning of the session we had so much problems. I wasn't driving very good on the track, so by the end of the practice I decided to stay out longer even though my bike setting wasn't so good. But I prefer to stay out and get some running on the track to learn where the bumps are and try to get some good lines on the track. For tomorrow with the mechanics, we are trying to improve our setting, getting more traction on the rear, because with these high temperatures it looks like the rear is suffering a little bit more. Last year we had a very good setting on the bike. I believe it will be hard to get that same feeling again this year. We are running a completely different bike from last year's. The pole is always important, but Sunday is even more so. I'm looking forward to the weekend."
VALENTINO ROSSI (No. 46 Fiat Yamaha Team, fifth): "This track it tricky; no grip, a lot of bumps. It's difficult to ride here. It's difficult to take the right line. There's a lot of different surfaces and not very good grip. I feel good physically. On the bike I feel good. But we need to improve the balance and the grip and acceleration. This track doesn't have a lot of grip, so I need to try to understand the setup of the bike to improve the grip." (On the hot condition making the grip more difficult): "Yeah, when it's very, very hot it's more difficult. But I prefer very hot than rain."
COLIN EDWARDS (No. 5 Monster Yamaha Tech 3, sixth): "Yeah, I feel pretty good. The bike seems to be working pretty good. We know where we lose a little bit of time. We'll try to rearrange a couple things. But in all, I'm comfortable on the bike. The main thing is bike balance. The front feels good. It's doing kind of what I want it to do, so the lap times will come." (On the overall track and weather conditions): "I'm ready. I've been living in 105 degrees the last couple weeks. This is great. The hotter the better."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (No. 4 Repsol Honda Team, seventh): "Unfortunately we couldn't push like what we thought because we had a comparison about the new front fork we try in the test. We lose a little bit of time, so I put on a new rear tire at the end. I could make just one lap, so the tire wasn't ready 100 percent. I think we have a margin to improve. We have a good pace. Sure, the lap time of Casey is really fast. I know we have a lot of work to do, especially because we are here with a new setup of the electronics system, and it wasn't OK, 100 percent. I hope to qualify in the first row. It's always really difficult, but the important thing is to be in the first or second row."
BEN SPIES (No. 11 Monster Yamaha Tech 3, eighth): "Yeah, we ended up losing the front. But it was actually a pretty good session. I was happy with it. I felt like we were just about to get clicking; get rolling and had the right setup on there. You know, I'm happy with it. I'm obviously not happy with falling down. But I think we're in good condition and ready for tomorrow." (On his previous experience at the Speedway helping him): "Just knowing the track, it helps knowing the layout. We'll put that to as much use as we can and get ready for tomorrow. You tip over every now and then. But the basically, the setup, I'm happy with it. I think we're right there. I definitely think we have more speed in it."
ALEIX ESPARGARO (No. 41 Pramac Racing Team, ninth): "I like this track. I have good feelings here because last year was my first race in MotoGP. It's a little bit bumpy, but it's a nice track and fun to race here." (Sunday is supposed to be much warmer, how does that affect things?): "When it's hot it's more grip than when it is cold. For the rider, sure, it's worse."
MARCO MELANDRI (No. 33 San Carlo Honda Gresini, 10th): "(The session) was very, very tough. We've been struggling a lot with the electronics on the engine, but the track looks OK. The grip is not wonderful, but I think it gets better day by day. I'm confident (about qualifying), actually. The bike looks not so bad. For sure, we are very far from the top, but we will do our best, so I'm confident."
ALVARO BAUTISTA (No. 19 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 14th): "That was my first time (laps) here with MotoGP bike. I need to get references, to learn the particulars with this bike. I have problem exiting the corners because I need more wheel. Entry in some corners, I need more feeling to turn the bike. I try to enter quicker, and I cannot turn. We will work on that problem and improve the bike and also myself." (Is this track similar to any other course?): "I think not because this track, we ride opposite way to F1, so the corners are very different than other tracks. You feel like the entry is very quick and in the middle of the corner, the corner closes." (Physical condition after racing accidents in France and Czech Republic): "Now I am OK. I can ride the bike like I want. Physically, I have no problem. I can continue until the end of the season."
LORIS CAPIROSSI (No. 65 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 15th): "Today was not fine for us. I lost a half-hour in the box trying to fix the problem. We never found the best solution, but we will do a lot for Saturday. I think, 100 percent, we can go much, much quicker compared to today. We went 1.5 seconds slower than last year. We can improve a lot in the morning. I am very positive. We had a problem with bike No. 1; we have to use bike No. 2. The front caster is not so good on bike No. 2, and neither is the front fitting. I lose a lot (grip) of the front tire. We will work really hard to get that bike (No. 1) back tomorrow (Saturday). We will try to make as good a race as last year."
HIROSHI AOYAMA (No. 7 Interwetten Honda MotoGP, 16th): "It’s only been two months since my crash and coming back is not so easy. The beginning of the practice, especially, was not easy. I felt a little bit better toward the end of the session. I like this track, and I’m starting to get comfortable with the bike again. My condition is not quite 100 percent better, so I can’t take as much risk as I’d like. The main thing I have to do is get back my feeling with the bike, so that’s my objective now, and the rest of the weekend should improve after that. My back is almost better, and I’ll be on the bike for the rest of the weekend." (On the Red Bull Indianapolis GP and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "For me, coming back here is like starting new and starting at zero. This track is something very different from anything in Europe. Last year, I was finished second on the podium in the 250cc class. So I have a good memory and pretty good feeling with this track. It’s a very interesting place because there are many, let’s say, ‘strange’ corners. It’s not an easy track at all, and I am happy to be back in Indy after my injury."
RANDY DE PUNIET (No. 14 LCR Honda MotoGP, 17th): "We need to improve a lot. I had a little problem sitting on the bike. We also had some problems with the rear and the front, as well. I’m confident we can get everything together, though, and probably get a top-10 finish. I definitely feel better than Brno even if I’m not 100 percent. Indy is not an easy track for my leg because I broke the left one and this track has a lot of left turns. There are no real elevation differences, and the flat surface is not a problem for my leg at all. I think we can keep working with the bike and get a good result."