A Conversation With ... Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa, Marco Simoncelli
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. It's Round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship; still seven rounds to go. In the press conference today, the World Championship leader, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda. Casey has won six Grands Prix this season. He has a 32-point lead in the World Championship. He's been on the podium in the last nine Grands Prix, and he's won the last two.
Sitting alongside him to his right is his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Dani's fifth in the World Championship. He's had two wins this season. He was the winner of the race last year after qualifying in fifth place.
To the left of Casey, Ben Spies. Ben, of course, is riding the Yamaha. He's sixth in the World Championship and, of course, Ben returns home to America, and he's had his first Grand Prix victory ever and that was at Assen earlier this year.
The far end, ladies and gentlemen, the former World Champion, of course, Nicky Hayden; Nicky riding the Ducati. He's seventh in the World Championship. He's had that podium finish in Jerez. He has an excellent record at Indianapolis: Second in 2008, of course, when the hurricane came, and third in 2009 and that was Nicky's first podium riding the Ducati.
At the far end, ladies and gentlemen, Marco Simoncelli riding that San Carlo Gresini Honda. Marco secured his first-ever MotoGP podium at the last round at Brno in the Czech Republic. He was the 250cc winner here two years ago in 2009. Marco three years ago, he was on pole position for the 250cc race that was never held because the hurricane did arrive. Poor Marco, there was no 250cc race.
We start, of course, with the championship leader, Casey Stoner. Casey, I think we said exactly the same thing at Brno, you arrive here in pretty good shape.
CASEY STONER: Yeah, definitely, you know, we've had a couple of tough weekends leading up to the races the last two race weekends. We've managed to pull things together by Race Day and get ourselves up front. So we're definitely arriving here with a little bit more confidence. Things weren't looking good the last two weekends, but the way race days went, we couldn't ask for more. So we can hope that we can improve our weekend a little bit more here. We struggled way too much at the last one and took too long a get set up. So if we can get set up a little bit faster here this weekend, it's going to be a little more relaxing. But we've also got to ride with this new surface. It's going to be interesting to see what it's going to be like, how much grip we have and how the weather works out for this weekend. Last night the weather, there was quite a few storms in and around the area. But as far as we can see, the weather looks like it's going to be good for the weekend. We have to wait and see how it goes and do the best job we can over the weekend.
Q: Indianapolis, no podiums. You've had your ups and downs here, haven't you; you missed the race also a couple years ago?
STONER: Yeah, I've only done two races here. One of them we were struggling a little bit more in the wet. And the other one last year we felt we were fast enough to get on the podium, but we didn't finish the race. So I think it's a circuit I've always been pretty competitive at. We've always been pretty happy here when we have rode here; especially in the dry, we've always felt very comfortable, but things just haven't worked out perfectly for the race. So we'll see how we go this weekend. Things are a lot different this year, and hopefully we can be competitive.
Q: It is a special place, though, isn't it? Just driving in here, you know that this is iconic, I suppose is the word. It's a very special place to race motorcycles.
STONER: Yeah, it's definitely a place where I want to come to in the future to watch those grandstands fill up. That's something I think would be quite spectacular. But as far as bike racing goes as well, you know, it's always turned out to be a reasonably good race. And, you know, it's a very hard track, very challenging. It's not sort of normal braking and turn and exiting corners. There's tricky little sections to it and also some faster sections that take a little bit more guts than some corners. So I will be looking forward to attacking this track with the Honda and see if we can get around here quick enough.
Q: Just talk about Brno the Monday after the Grand Prix win. You had the test and you, again, tested the 1000cc bike. From what you said and the pictures I saw, you seemed to be enjoying it.
STONER: Definitely riding the 1000 is a little bit more fun, in my opinion. Just to have that much more grunt and to be spinning up in the high gears, fourth, fifth gear we're still able to spin up quite easily. It's just a lot of fun to have that much torque coming out of a corner. You can ride a gear higher, it's not the fastest way, but to feel that power coming out of the corner is something different.
I can't say it went perfectly, I think we've got some big steps still to make forward. But, you know, we'll see how they go in the coming tests that we're going to have. But, yeah, it was still a lot of fun to ride that bike around and after a good weekend everything seems to go pretty well. We've still got some work to do, for sure.
Q: Casey, thanks very much.