After an absence of 99 years, the famous circuit hosts the Indianapolis Grand Prix Sept. 14, headlined by Valentino Rossi and the rest of the MotoGP tour.
For Rossi in particular, the Indianapolis Grand Prix offers another chance of making history. A win at IMS will put the Fiat Yamaha rider alone at the top of the list for the most career premier-class wins. Rossi tied the legendary Giacomo Agostini with his 68th victory Aug. 31 at the San Marino Grand Prix in Misano, Italy.
“I am still on a high from Misano, which was an amazing day, but now we are facing a different challenge,” says Rossi. “It’s very exciting to be going to Indianapolis, such a famous and historical place for motorsport, but it’s obvious from reports that it’s going to be quite a difficult race for everyone. Of course we have no data but we’re also expecting the surface to be quite tricky for the tires. I hope the track is safe, we know the walls are quite close in some places but hopefully it won’t be a problem.”
A successful showing at IMS would also bring Rossi closer to winning his eighth world championship. Rossi arrives in Indiana with a 75-point lead over Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, who is looking to return to form after crashing out of the previous two MotoGP races.
“Obviously I’m not happy with the results of the last few races,” says Stoner. “We have proved that we are consistently fast but that clearly isn’t enough.”
Stoner has been riding with an injured scaphoid bone, the same wrist bone he first fractured during the 2003 season.
“Casey underwent a CAT scan last week, which showed that the scaphoid he fractured and had operated on back in 2003 has never completely healed,” says Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP project director. “With the support of a pool of doctors over the next few weeks, Casey will decide if another operation is going to be necessary.”
Fans in Indianapolis will have a number of American racers to root for. Returning to the track after missing a pair of races due to an ankle injury is Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden, while Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins also look to put in a good showing in their native land.
Newly crowned AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies will also race as a wildcard entrant for Rizla Suzuki.
“I’m really looking forward to racing a MotoGP bike again on American soil, and I’ve been lucky enough to have done some laps on the Indy circuit, so I am pretty comfortable with it,” says Spies. “I am looking for a pretty good weekend, and it looks like the Suzuki has been working well over the last few races, so that should help us to be competitive. It should be fun, and we’ll try our best to get a good result for all the American fans that will be turning up to watch us.”
Other Americans competing as wildcard entries are Yamaha riders Barrett Long and Kyle Ferris in the 250cc class, and KTM’s David Stirpe and Aprilia’s Kristian Lee Turner who will race in the 125cc class alongside series regular Stevie Bonsey of Salinas, Calif.