Mixed Responses from Riders over Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Renewal with MotoGP

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In an announcement made before today’s Indianapolis GP, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway published that it will host MotoGP again next year, as Dorna has renewed The Brickyard with a one-year contract. This announcement puts an end to the immediate chatter that surrounded the MotoGP venue before this weekend, as it was speculated that IMS would not be returning to the MotoGP calendar for the 2011 season.

However the announcement also raises some more eyebrows, specifically because of the short renewal duration (Laguna Seca also renewed its contract with Dorna this year, but will host MotoGP through 2014), and also because of the growing pressure from riders regarding the track’s surface and format.

Perhaps most vocal of his opinion about the track’s condition is Casey Stoner. The Ducati rider missed last year’s Indianapolis GP, and says that there has been a significant degradation between Indy’s inaugural conditions and those from this weekend. One of the victim’s of the bumps in Turn 6, Stoner succintly believes that there’s, “a lot of the circuit they need to have a big think about.”

“It just seems that it’s not a world class circuit,” lamented Stoner. “Maybe the shape of it and everything can be, but the surface definitely isn’t. If you go for a walk to the top of that last corner, it looks like we’re going through someone’s garage. There’s concrete there, it’s not tarmac. Then all of a sudden there’s tarmac and there’s a big seam there. It doesn’t feel like it’s a grand prix circuit at all.”

“One of the bumpiest circuits I’ve ridden is Silverstone, and except for the fact that this is a shorter circuit, it’s rivaling pretty well. I mean it’s bad, some of the bumps….ask Ben, I’m sure he’ll tell yah,” continued Stoner. “He crashed where there are some really bad ones.”

Stoner isn’t alone in his sentiments, Riders have complained about bumps throughout the circuit (Randy de Puniet calls it his least favorite track), but the biggest problem spot has been Turn 6. Arranged like Charybdis and Scylla, riders have been losing the bike mid-corner because a large bump in the racing line upsets the torqued-over motorcycles.

“There’s a lot of bumps here,” says pole-sitter Ben Spies. “The one bump that has definitely caught a few people out, caught me out even though I knew it was there…It’s a tricky track.”

With Stoner saying that 70% of the track needs to be resurfaced, and issues like plastic drain covers being placed near the racing surface causing issues not only with traction, but catching knee pucks, the riders have found their voices not heard in the GP Safety Commission.

Defending his local track, Nicky Hayden offers some balance to the argument made by his teammate. “Is that why he (Stoner) was going so slow today?” quipped Hayden. “I mean 70% of our tracks…we could re-surface them all. If they want to re-surface it great, but I didn’t think it was that bad.” Hayden concedes that perhaps his flat-tracking background makes the rough and tumble circuit more suitable to his riding style.

MotoGP however is not without options in replacing Indianapolis on its schedule for 2012. Perhaps the most attractive venue on Dorna’s list is the soon-to-be built GP facility in Austin, Texas that Formula 1 will call home. It seems a rather handy coincidence that the contract with IMS will be up around the same time that Austin would be available to host the second round of the US GP. While the party’s intentions remain unconfirmed, there does seem to be at least some leverage for the rider’s to use in having the infield at Indy re-done.