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MotoGP testers assess Indy course

Spies records 100 laps of new circuit

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jul. 02, 2008
Ducati tester Niccolo Canepa recorded the fastest time in the first official MotoGP test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Canepa and six other riders representing the manufacturers competing in the MotoGP series combined for a total of 492 laps of the course which will be the site of the Indianapolis Grand Prix Sept 12-14. As an entirely new track, the data recorded by the test riders will be vital in helping teams prepare for the race.

Riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP8 on Bridgestone tires the 2007 FIM 1000cc Superstock champion raced 83 laps on the Brickyard’s new motorcycle track. He recorded the top time of 1:44.176 on the 2.62-mile course.

“It is a beautiful track. Just this morning, I got to learn the circuit because it’s new for everybody and it was also a little bit dirty, so we have to clean up the circuit,” says Canepa. “We did many, many laps this morning, but now in the evening the grip was good, and we found a good setup and good tires to do a good lap time.”

Reigning AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies also participated in the tests on behalf of Suzuki. Spies is the only one of the test riders scheduled to race in the Indianapolis Grand Prix for Rizla Suzuki. MotoGP rules bar official team riders from participating in these tests, but as a wildcard entry, Spies is allowed to take part.

Spies recorded the second-best lap time at 1:44.227 on a Suzuki GSV-R with Bridgestone tires. Spies logged 100 laps to lead all testers as he tries to become familiar with both the course and the motorcycle.Just as Casey Stoner did at both Donington and Assen last week, Niccolo Canepa recorded the top time at the Indy test session on a Ducati Desmosedici GP8.

“It’s just that this is a new motorcycle for me so I’m just trying to do as many laps as I can, and that’s about it,” says Spies. “The track, after a few laps you learn it no matter what, so [I’m] just trying to get more comfortable on the bike. In the end, we’re getting faster and faster so it was a pretty good day.”

Former MotoGP racer Olivier Jacque tested the course for Kawasaki. The former 250cc Grand Prix world champion says that riding alongside the walled section of the course was an unusual experience.

“The track was not difficult to get used to. It took maybe ten laps. The track is quite short, and the biggest problem was getting used to riding against the wall,” says Jacque. “It’s quite funny to ride against the wall because that would never happen in our circuit. Now, I’m only one meter from the wall, so you really appreciate the speed.”

French rider William Costes, a four-time winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, tested for Yamaha with Michelin tires. Costes says that motorcycles could approach speeds of 199 mph on the new track.

“I don’t know exactly, but I would say around 300 kilometers (188 mph) and maybe more,” says Costes. “The straight was very long, but the last corner is very slow. If we got out of the turn better, we could probably go 320 (199 mph) or so.”

The first day of testing focused on tires. The July 2 tests shifted to bike setups. The Red Bull AMA Rookies will get their turn to try out the new Indy track on July 3.

MotoGP test results, July 1, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pos. Rider Manufacturer/Tire Time Laps
1. Niccolo Canepa Ducati / Bridgestone 1:44.176 83
2. Ben Spies Suzuki / Bridgestone 1:44.227 100
3. Olivier Jacque Kawasaki / Bridgestone 1:45.274 75
4. Erwan Nigon Honda / Michelin 1:45.274 79
5. Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha / Bridgestone 1:45.592 76
6. William Costes Yamaha / Michelin 1:46.125 75
7. Nobuatsu Aoki Suzuki / Bridgestone 1:57.969 4