2013 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix Pre-Event Press conference
MODERATOR: Very warm welcome back from the summer break, everybody. It's Round 10 of the MotoGP World Championship we're at Indianapolis, of course. The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. And so much has happened. We have seven riders in the pre-event press conference. So I'm only going to ask a couple of questions and phase up to the lot behind me. Quite a lot of questions and things to be sorted out.
In the middle, of course, it's Marc Marquez who leads the World Championship riding the Repsol Honda. He's already won at Austin and already won at Laguna. So he's chasing a hat trick of wins in America, and also a hat trick of wins here in Indianapolis because he won the Moto2 race in 2011 and 2012.
To his right is teammate, of course Dani Pedrosa, second in the World Championship. Dani has won here a couple of times, 2010 and 2012, two Grand Prix wins this season for Dani.
To his left, Jorge Lorenzo, riding the factory Yamaha, of course Jorge is the current MotoGP World Champion, 2009 MotoGP winner here and second last year. Three wins for Jorge in the World Championship this year.
To the right of Dani, Valentino Rossi, nine times World Champion, of course Valentino three podiums in the last three wins, including that win at Assen. 2008 winner here, just before the hurricane came or when the hurricane was starting, I seem to remember, very windy race indeed.
To the left of Jorge, a man who has been busy in the summer break. Of course, Cal Crutchlow riding that Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Fifth in the World Championship, Cal; four podium finishes for him and some big news during the summer break.
At the far end, Stefan Bradl. Of course, Stefan sixth in the World Championship, sixth in the race here last year. In Laguna, his first pole position in MotoGP and his first podium finish in MotoGP, and some big news from Stefan as well during the summer break, which obviously we will be talking about.
At the far end, a warm welcome back to Ben Spies. Ben has missed most of the season, but he's here, he's fit, riding the Pramac Ducati. Of course, Ben was second here in 2010, and he started the race from pole position. So he knows Indianapolis well.
That's the riders' lineup. We'll obviously start with Marc Marquez.
Welcome back, Marc. Second half of the season. Same as the first you require I would imagine.
MARC MARQUEZ: Yeah, now we have the second half of the season, so we really compare our battles during the summertime. And, you know, we were here again, we come back, so it's the best we get again the feeling with the bike and try to keep the same level, but it will be difficult. Will be interesting, too, because looks like Dani and Jorge, they are recovering, so will be nicer.
MODERATOR: And Indy, two wins at Moto2, OK, MotoGP is different but it does help.
MARQUEZ: Yeah, it is one of the tracks that I always ride quite well, so I hope to do the same way with MotoGP bike. It is quite especially because the conditions, the track change quite a lot from the first practice to the race. Because in the beginning it's so slippery. And so we will see how we start with the Bridgestone tires because with the Dunlop tires we struggle a little bit. So for everybody it will be the same. So we will try to start in P1 and try to do it our way.
MODERATOR: Marc, thank you very much indeed.
Dani, to his right, welcome back, Dani. Of course two wins here. And what about the fitness? Obviously it's been a very important three weeks for you to get as near as a hundred percent fit as you can.
DANI PEDROSA: Yes, I was doing some recovery these days. So just basically my recovery was not to move a lot. I had to stay quiet, but the healing process is getting better. And we could see in the last days some signs of some recovery in the bones. So this is good. And already my feeling obviously is much better than in the last race. So just willing to go out and check how's everything on the bike and try to do some laps.
MODERATOR: Indianapolis, you've won here twice but you've had your problems here as well, haven't you? I think as a lot of riders have.
PEDROSA: Yeah, somehow it's a special track due to the conditions of the track and the asphalt, it's changing quite a bit in the morning and in the afternoon. With the grip conditions, also, the beginning of the weekend it's always very dusty. It's hard to get some good grip on the track. But we will try to do our best during the sessions to get the best feeling on the bike.
MODERATOR: Dani, thank you very much.
We come to Marc's left, of course, Jorge Lorenzo, the current World Champion. Same question, really, Jorge. Fitness. Obviously Laguna was a tough, tough race for you and Dani. You were telling me yesterday the fitness is coming back.
JORGE LORENZO: Yeah, obviously I'm not like before Assen if we speak about physical condition. But much better than Laguna. I spend almost all the holiday training, training hard and recovering the collarbone. So let's see tomorrow how everything is going.
MODERATOR: You had a test between Laguna and here in Brno.
LORENZO: Yeah, the holiday has been stopped by this test. But anyway, I think it's positive to feel again in good condition on the bike because, as you know, in Assen I wasn't good in Laguna, too. So to feel again in almost perfect condition on the bike is very important for the mind, no?
MODERATOR: Jorge, thanks very much indeed.
We come to the right of Dani, of course, Valentino Rossi. Valentino, also, not a complete rest. You went to Brno as well.
VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes, we did the test, the test in Brno but it was good, it was important because it's important for stay a bit on the bike. We have some important stuff to try. And it was a positive test. And it's like we did a small race in the center of the holiday. So maybe tomorrow we will more be ready.
MODERATOR: And I believe the new gearbox, that was what everybody was talking about. How was it? And will you use it here?
ROSSI: Yes. We tried the new gearbox in Brno and the feeling was very, very good. We like a lot. But, you know, is a lot of work to do. I think it's still not ready. I mean, I don't know when is possible to use, I hope as soon as possible.
MODERATOR: Second half of the season, return to Yamaha, you've had had the win, you've had the podiums. Push on from there?
ROSSI: Yes, I arrive from a quite good couple of races and the target is to try to continue like this, try to stay on the podium, try to make a lot of point and try to win a race. This track is always a bit difficult but is the start of the second part of the season. We have three races in a row, so we have to be ready and try to do the best as possible.
MODERATOR: Valentino, thank you.
We come to the left of Jorge, of course, Cal Crutchlow. Cal ruined most journalists' summer break by breaking the big news with a lot of people on the beach. Big decision for you, Cal, all sorted and your future sorted as well.
CAL CRUTCHLOW: Yeah. After Laguna we decided we're going to stay in America and take a break here. So, but yeah, it wasn't too much of a break. We had a busy first week. Yeah, we obviously released I'll be riding for Ducati next year. But yeah, really pleased and nice to finally get that deal done for next year and can settle for the rest of the year. So we'll see how it goes.
MODERATOR: Was it a difficult decision? Obviously the pros and cons of everything.
CRUTCHLOW: Yeah, there's pros and cons to everything. I think the most difficult thing was making the phone call to Hervé. It was quite an emotional phone call for both of us and difficult situation to be in. My team has been fantastic, and we still have the rest of the year to try and make the best job we can with them. So it was a difficult choice to make because of that decision. But, no, I'm pleased to have secured my future definitely.
MODERATOR: As you say, second half of the season, it's been a great first half for you, finishing so, so close to that win. Nine races left with the team.
CRUTCHLOW: Yeah, obviously mine will be to do the best job I can for Tech 3. I took my first podium in MotoGP with them, and they stood by me after a first tough year. I think if there's anything we can do for the rest of the year, it will be to try and take a win. I don't know where it will be but I'll definitely be trying. I've got nothing to lose. It doesn't matter where I am in the championship particularly. We're doing a good job there, and if we can continue in the way we have, four podiums early in the season, I think if we can start the second half of the year strong there's no reason why we can't be there at the end of the year as well.
MODERATOR: Cal, thanks very much, indeed.
We come to the far end, Stefan Bradl riding the LCR Honda, his first podium and MotoGP pole at Laguna, and some big news for you, Stefan, during the holiday.
STEFAN BRADL: Yes, we also can say that we will continue, or I will continue next year with LCR and a good support from HRC, which is most important. And yeah, that's good for me and good for the team. We still have some job to do and I am very happy with that. So, also, good news for the second half of the season just to do the maximum, and I think that we have done a good job the last couple of races, so we try to continue that and going the best speed we can for, from tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Mixed first half of the season for you. Obviously there was the crashes, but coming into Laguna, what a morale booster that was for you and the team, the results there.
BRADL: Yeah, we've been waiting long time for the first podium, but obviously the race in Laguna was just really good for us. And yeah, I think, also, the last couple of races since Assen, we are coming back, we are coming closer to the top and, yeah, just step by step we try to work as good as we can to close the gap to the front. I think we would be also strong here and try to do the maximum. But I think everything is sorted now and it's feeling great. So let's jump on the bike.
MODERATOR: Stefan, thank you very much indeed.
Come to the far end, ladies and gentlemen. It's been a very, very difficult time for Ben Spies. But welcome back, Ben. Fully fit and raring to go, I think, for the remaining nine races.
BEN SPIES: It's been a rough race, to say the least for sure. Now I feel good to finally be back and maybe not take your job as a commentator. So now it's more I can get on the bike and ride and not tell the little white lies to all the journalists and saying I'm almost ready to ride when clearly in the beginning of the year we were never close to a hundred percent. But now we can get on with the business and kind of start the season where we need to, and I'm looking forward to it. It's been too much of a break. Last time we rode a motorcycle at all was Mugello. So we've got a lot of cobwebs to dust off and clearly it's been since last year since we've been fast on a bike.
So as Marquez says, step by step, we need to, I need to get back in that form and slowly get there. So it's a good track to come back to. We've had good memories here and just looking forward to getting back on there and each session just try to get faster and faster and see where we can end up on Sunday and go from there the next couple weeks.
MODERATOR: As you said, it's very much the start of the season for you, isn't it?
SPIES: Yeah, the start of the season for me this year was nothing. If anybody can know what it's like to ride a bike in that situation when you just can't hold on, it's horrible and we were just trying to do it. We ended up doing more damage and set us way too far back but that's a typical athlete, always trying to come back too soon and stuff like that. Now I can say we're ready to ride but I've just got to get back up to speed which might take a little bit but not too long. And we see how it goes.
MODERATOR: Ben, welcome back and thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, questions from the floor for seven riders? I'm sure there will be some. So wherever the microphones are. Put your hands up.
Q: Start maybe with Valentino and anybody else that wants to jump in. Is this a racecourse you enjoy being at? You've had a lot of accidents last year. You had one, I believe. Would you like this circuit to stay on the schedule?
ROSSI: For me sincerely, yes. I like the place and I like the Grand Prix, but I don't like very much the track. Is I think one of the most difficult during the season because, first of all, for the layout because I think that this started for the other sense to go in reverse. The corners are strange and also because of a lot of different type of asphalt. Usually not a lot of grip. You have to ride with the tires but the asphalt to the track doesn't provide enough grip. So it's one of the most difficult races during the season.
Also, physically and is very easy to make some mistakes. So it's a tricky, very tricky track, yeah.
MODERATOR: Anybody else want to make a comment about the track?
I think Valentino said it very well actually. Thank you, Valentino.
Q: Question for Cal. You said the decision was very difficult to make. Was the economic offer the reason it made you to decide for Ducati?
CRUTCHLOW: Did someone set that question up? (Laughter)
No. It was difficult decision to make because I didn't want to leave my team. That's what I said. It was wasn't a difficult decision to make to change a manufacturer. It was a difficult decision to leave Tech 3 because of how close I am with the team. And as a lot of people here know, my relationship with Hervé and all my guys is fantastic. So, yeah, the tough decision was that, nothing else.
Q: Cal, could you tell us more about your decision? Why did you choose to go to Ducati?
CRUTCHLOW: I like the color. (Laughter)
I don't know what, you know. My decision was made quite clear in my mind. I sat down with, you know, with the team of guys around me. I spoke personally, you know, to my team owner as well on the whole decision. I didn't think what I was being offered somewhere else was what I wanted and I wanted, you know -- this is a new challenge for me, it's something different. We've been in three years in MotoGP now, with Yamaha and also World Supersport and World Superbike. But sometimes it's time for a change. The deal that was put on the table in front of me I was happy with and there's no reason why I shouldn't change. I think it's a new motivation for me as well. And obviously it might be a little bit different position-wise as such, you know, straightaway anyway. But my motivation is to try to bring the bike to the front definitely.
Q: From what you know and what you saw on the track, what do you expect for your first year with the Ducati?
CRUTCHLOW: I don't know. It's a long time still from now until when I'll ride the bike or even race the bike. So a lot can change. As I said, you know, my main focus at the minute is to carry on for Tech 3 and do my best job I can there definitely. If we can go out this year very strong, then hopefully I can take that momentum into next year. But yeah, it seems difficult for Andrea now. I only know from Andrea. He's a strong rider in the championship. He's a good class of rider. He's rode for three different bikes, and it seems this one is the most difficult for him at the moment. But as I said, things can change and hopefully it will change before I get there.
Q: This question is for the three Spaniards. Now that there are three races consecutive in three Sundays, and this track last year was a strong crash: Spies, Hayden, and Stoner, and for Stoner the worst finish in the season. What allows this possibility in this track and especially with the difficult asphalt, do you think a good finish this weekend?
MARQUEZ: You saw the video from last year and it was quite dangerous in the end but in the end you cannot ride the bike with that mentality.
I will go out and I will try to find the feeling with the bike, and until then we will see. But you cannot ride with that mentality that this is you need to be careful because if you ride like that, you will not be fast. So we will see. Maybe this year a little bit different the condition of the track and it will be better. But, OK, that corner looks with that wall was quite dangerous, so we will pay a little bit more attention there.
PEDROSA: Well, I think sometimes it depends on the situation. I think you just have to get focused and keep riding the best you can. That's all because, for example, last year we saw many crashes but it was only on Sunday -- only on Saturday qualifying basically, I think. And Sunday really wasn't any issues. So sometimes it's only the moment and can be that the track, it's a little more slippery or whatever, you know. So shouldn't be a big problem.
LORENZO: Yeah, all the riders know that this track is not the most grippy one in the championship. So it's especially very difficult to understand which corner you can push at the limit, especially in the first practice. Then little by little it's improving. And especially if you make a mistake and you are out of the line, it is very easy to make a mistake and to close the front wheel or the rear one.
I remember in a little bit if I crash here and I think I didn't crash from 2008 any time but that doesn't mean I cannot crash twice or three times this weekend. So let's see what happens.
Q: Ben, tough bike to come back on and tough part of the season to come back at. Do you agree?
SPIES: I mean, yeah, but it is what it is. We've got three weekends in a row and there are actually three tracks that I really like. Even though this track is the -- the bike, it's hard to come back to, and this track is a very tricky track and it's quite physical. I'm not worried really with anything other than just slowly getting back up to speed. Other than that, there's no worries. There's no perfect time to come back or anything like that. So this is, this was the best time to come back with all the doctors and what was going on. You know, I have good memories of this track and I've always done well. So we just do what we can do and kind of start from scratch and build our way up.
Q: Have you tested the shoulder?
SPIES: No, I haven't ridden since Mugello.
Q: Is there any way to test it off the bike? Tomorrow morning will be the big answer?
SPIES: Yeah, I think anybody can say unless you can ride a motocross bike, which I wasn't supposed to be doing, you can do everything, you can be the fittest person out there but what a bike does to you, you can't duplicate it in the gym. Even when you're a hundred percent, when you give a hundred percent the entire weekend, come Monday, every rider is sore on basically their whole body. These bikes are really physical. So there's no real way to test anything.
But there's, you know, I believe everything is going to be fine and we just got to, like I said, I'm just worried about slowly getting back up to speed and doing that because it's been, you know, about eight months, nine months since we've seen that speed. So just got to be patient and just work in a good way.
Q: Jorge, what is your opinion about the seamless gearbox, and do you wish to use it sometime this season?
LORENZO: Yeah, we try in Brno, but it is still an evolution. So for the moment it's not ready. I hope to use it as soon as possible for to win this world title.
Q: Thank you. Another question to Stefan. We've seen your level improving. Is there one particular reason? Did you feel back the front better thanks to the change of brakes or are there other factors?
BRADL: Yeah, can be, but I think just getting more use to the bike, also to the brakes, and more feeling for it, I think that was a big step forward for us. And since that we are improving all the time. Yeah, that's I think a great change we did. Since then we showed the performance is going in the right direction.
Q: Cal, again, in the last two or three years Ducati has stepped behind Yamaha and Honda. What is your feeling about this as you're going to go there next year? You are worried? It's, I don't know the word in English, but are you worried?
CRUTCHLOW: Ben is going to answer for me. (Laughter)
No, I'm not worried. At the end of the day it's a motorcycle that people have done very well on in the past and not just one rider. Yeah, as I said, hopefully things will change a little, but I will give a hundred percent. I believe my hundred percent will be good enough. If I didn't think my hundred percent was good enough, I wouldn't be racing a motorcycle. So I think, you know, I'll try my best and that's all I can do.
Q: Jorge, what do you have to do to try to catch up Marc and even Dani? Is it just a physical condition at the moment that is keeping you from attacking? Or do you need more help from Yamaha or whatever?
LORENZO: Well, obviously if we can improve the bike a little bit or it will get fast to me and to Valentino, will give us facility to be faster and to have more options to win the championship, no? But I think this thing doesn't depend on the riders, the riders are just riders, we go to the bike and try to be as fast as possible. We have this bike for the moment anything new, so we have to concentrate like before Assen to be like before, no? Like in Mugello. If we can be like this and I don't make any more stupid mistakes, we can have the possibility to recover some points.
Q: Cal, the question from a rider standpoint for you must have been quite a dilemma because the bike you're on right now is obviously very close and you're riding very well and you're so close to possibly winning a Grand Prix. The decision must have been a tough one to go to a different manufacturer where the results really weren't -- wouldn't be known.
CRUTCHLOW: Yeah. As I said, the Yamaha and the team that I'm riding for is great. The decision was, yeah, as I said, was difficult to leave the team. But in terms of a contract, I believe that the one I've got was a lot better than the one I was being offered. So in that instance, you know, I sat down, as I said, with the people and the guys around me and I spoke to Hervé. The decision was made on my part that I would move, you know, to Ducati. But it wasn't a tough decision in the sense of anything else. I think, as I said, it was just tough to leave the team.
Yes, the bike I've got now is very good and the team is very good. And I'll try to prove that it's very good for the rest of the year.
Q: Question for Valentino. Valentino, if you had any advice to give to Cal, what would it be? (Laughter)
ROSSI: You know, I think that Cal want very much a factory bike, no? And maybe think that Yamaha doesn't give enough importance to his work and for sure you go with Ducati and Ducati a lot of people will work for him. Like he said, it's a great challenge for him because like Dovi have some problem, and I have some problem to bring the Ducati to the top.
But Cal have a different riding style and is a different rider like is very strong. So why not? Advice, for sure at the beginning will be hard because the Ducati is more difficult to bring at the limit compared to the M1. But anyway, I think that in the factory, in Ducati, they have to work a lot. I think that they know, they know that they have to raise the level of the bike and will be interesting to see what's happen, yeah.
Q: Cal, from what you have seen yourself on the track and then also from what you know from talking to other riders, what are the strong points and maybe the points to be improved on the Ducati?
CRUTCHLOW: I think a lot to be improved and the strong point, it's fast. But the rest of it I don't know. You know, it's too difficult for me to turn around and make a comment on that when I haven't rode it. I don't know if the bike they have at the minute maybe completely suits my style, maybe things need to change, maybe it just doesn't suit some of the guys. I don't know, you know. I can't really comment on that situation because I don't ride the bike. So I will never make a comment on the way the guys have ridden it or are riding it now because, you know, it's not for me to say. Obviously Valentino has rode it and Andrea and Nicky, and I can't comment on that at all. All you can see is what you see on track, but you're not the guy riding it.
So how do I know if I jump on it I might not even have to make a change at all. But yeah, it's clear, it needs to improve. But it's not my job to do that. My job and motivation is to ride it a hundred percent of my ability.
Q: Question for Valentino. Valentino, regarding the Brno test, you said that improvement was immediately, the improvement with the seamless gearbox. So did it appear on the timing? And second question, do you think that when it arrives, it will change the riding style of the Yamaha?
ROSSI: Yeah, so for me in one lap doesn't change a lot. I mean about the lap time. We try, we try to make some comparison, a lot of people speak about two-tenths for a lap I think is less than two-tenths. But the big improvement is I think in the 20 or 30 laps because the bike become a lot more easier to ride, more stable, more stable in acceleration, but also more stable in braking, in the next braking. For me it's better for the tires, less stress for the tires, and also is very good for the riders because the bike become more easy to bring at the limit and more difficult to make a mistake. So I think it's something very important for the race distance more than for one lap.
The feeling is fantastic. It's a great emotion to ride with the gearbox and acceleration is very good. When we can use, you say? Sincerely, I don't know. Me and Jorge push a lot for to have as soon as possible because is very good. And now it's a little bit bad feeling to come back to the normal one because the normal one feels very fast before you try the seamless. But the Japanese say that we have to be quiet, the gearbox is a critical point. We have to be ready a hundred percent, but I hope as soon as possible during the season I hope, yeah.
Q: Valentino, do you think you will have to change the --
ROSSI: The riding style? You can use the gear for ride the bike more than before. I mean that if you need to change the gear, also on the very edge you can do. You don't have to modify the style, but you can use some tricks for use the maximum gearbox to go faster.
Q: Question for Ben Spies. Ben, last year when you were in Yamaha and previous years, your realistic goals may have been for a podium. What do you find that your goals might be in the remaining races this year in terms of realistic expectations for finishes and what do you intend on doing for next year as well?
SPIES: I mean in the last year and the year before we definitely had goals and we accomplished, you know, most of them. This year they're honestly, with the way the year has gone and with everything, I don't have any goals right now because, you know, first of all, like I said, I've got to slowly get back up to, you know, my pace. And what that translates on the Ducati I don't know yet because I haven't been there. So we just have to wait. And it's more, you know, I might be able to set some more realistic goals come Brno, Silverstone, and see where we're at compared to other guys on the Ducatis because right now I don't know. I haven't been able to ride the bike at a hundred percent or anything like that. So I still need to really learn the bike.
You know, I've never been close to pushing the thing and once we get to that point, then I can kind of see where we can go and what's possible. Obviously battling for the podium, I don't think that's going to be happening this year -- unless it rains on Sunday, that might help.
But right now I don't have any goals for this weekend or next. It's basically, like I said, just keep making steps and keep going forward.
Q: Question for Valentino and Jorge. Will the seamless gearbox require a different type of engine or can it be used with the engines in your current allotment?
ROSSI: Yes, I read this in the newspaper but sincerely, I don't know. I don't know if possible to put the gearbox already on this engine or we have to wait for the last engine. Seriously, I don't know. If we have to wait for the last engine for sure, we speak about the last two or three races, not before.
Q: Valentino, we saw a video in the last day, you run up the track and couldn't continue with the bike. Was there a problem with the gearbox?
ROSSI: No, no, no. It's just that I was tired and -- (Laughter)
And I don't have enough power for to come back in the pit. (Laughter)
MODERATOR: Last question.
Q: Vale, would you have a decision, a Moto3 team in the championship?
ROSSI: Yeah, I hear about this. But, no, is not true about the team. We start to work with some young riders, Italian young riders. We call it 46 Rider's Academy and we start to help some young Italian riders from Moto3, but also in the Italian Championship and in the Spanish Championship but not about the team. We just help the group of guys to find a good motorcycle for next year. But not the team.
MODERATOR: OK. Well, thank you all very much indeed. That was terrific.