UPDATE: MotoGP riders after finishing FP2 said grip improved on the track, though anything off the racing line was quite slippery.

With MotoGP riders getting their first taste of the newly paved infield section at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the talk this morning after the Free Practice 1 session was about how the new track surfaces faired under the GP riders’ scrutiny. Though weather conditions were pretty much optimal, there is a virtually unanimous opinion that even without the bumps and curbing issues, the IMS track has worsened since last year. While most riders took issue with the virtually glass like state of the asphalt, the problem at Indy really is two-fold. Not only is the freshly paved tarmac devoid of any rubber to help aid the grip, but the infield, which is used almost exclusively for the Indianapolis GP, suffers yearly from dirt and debris.

“It is absolutely not improved. It’s very slippery, there is absolutely no grip. It was much, much, better the way it was before,” said a frustrated Dani Pedrosa. “You just can’t lean the bike on the corners…the tires were destroyed this morning. We hope with a little bit more running on the track, we can get a little bit better grip performance and tire wear, because at the moment it is completely horrible.”

Pedrosa’s sentiments were echoed by all the other riders we talked to, including the Yamaha Racing factory riders who had a dichotomy of results. Despite being fastest in the session, American Ben Spies was over three seconds slower than his pole pace from last year’s event. Having an even rougher time than his teammate, reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was down in ninth place on the session, just under two seconds behind Spies.

“I don’t feel safe on this new asphalt to be honest. I’ve never tried asphalt so slippery like this, and it’s very dirty,” explained Lorenzo. “Also, It didn’t improve much from the first lap to the last lap. I’m very disappointed about the new asphalt.”

“There are less bumps than last year, but the asphalt is so bad that I prefer the asphalt last year with the bumps. I hope, I really hope that it improves,” Lorenzo continued. “Like this, it is really uncomfortable to race, and I can’t imagine a rain race. It would be a disaster.”

Traditionally, the issue of dirt on the racing line lasts only in the early sessions, as the multiple volleys of motorcycles lapping the course helps clear a clean path around the IMS’s 16 corners. However, the issue of the track being slippery likely stems from the lack of rubber on the racing line, which helps give added grip to the motorcycles.

Because of the way motorcycle tires are shaped and corner through turns, bikes put down far less rubber into the course than a car would for example, meaning the bedding in time for Indy’s infield will take longer than traditionally at other events. We’ll have to see how over the course of today and tomorrow’s sessions the track improves, but right now there are some very skittish professional motorcycle racers in Indianapolis.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

  • keet

    i wonder if running some kind of race cars around the track when its not in use by the GP guys would help?

  • tlzook

    Turn a couple rear wheel drive “Drifter” cars with CE2, NH or Rossi behind the wheel, they’ll put some rubber down. Gotta be a couple of IRL cars around there (“raid” the museum) that can get the “slip” off that new surface.

  • Ted Shred

    Let Elena race. She wasn’t whining about the grip…

  • Trent

    What does everyone think of the fact that Nicky said it was “perfect” a few weeks ago?


  • Dave

    Nicky was on a street bike on different tires so it’s not a good comparison. I think he was mainly referring to the smoothness.
    New asphalt will always be slippery. Hopefully it gets better as the weekend goes on but it sounds like for now it may be a one line track.

  • shawndoh

    I am not a fan, but to be fair Nicky did say, “so I’m looking forward to getting back here on the race bike and laying some rubber down and cleaning up the racing line and trying it out.”
    Which could now be viewed as, it was slippery as hell! haha

    I was thinking the same about having cars running at all times the bikes are not- if I was in charge I would be trying to do anything to make them happy. I would view this race as the last chance to keep GP coming to the venue.

  • MikeD

    Well, that blows…but like many mentioned already the solution would be race cars, lots of them lots of times…that’ll put plenty of rubber on the fresh asphalt.

  • Shaitan

    Pathetic. I can’t believe race tracks can’t figure out the science to make tracks sticky and uniform for all types of racing. It would seem if you want to stay in business, that is YOUR business.

  • TM

    By FP2 the top times were less than a half second off of last years. Maybe these guys should just keep their mouths shut until they are sure of what is going on?

  • Sean in Oz

    Most of the time riders are answering direct questions not making statements out of the blue.

    Hayden was never going be a good indication of the quality of the track as he was adamant that there was nothing wrong with the track last year, when everybody else was complaining about it.

    MotoGP FP2 times are 3 seconds faster than FP1, so things are improving. Hopefully the 125 and Moto2 races will get enough rubber down off line for some decent racing in MotoGP.

  • Spamtasticus

    Or, they could comment honestlh on the current state of the track when asked what they think of the current state of the track. Later…. If the track improves….. They can comment, honestly, on how it has improved. Hmmmmmm…

  • Spamtasticus

    My comment was at TM

  • Isn’t some of the new “quiet” asphalt made with some rubber within it?

  • SissieRiders@MotoGP

    F-in A. I wish the complainers would man up and stop bitching about every little thing. “Oooh, too many bumps. We want new asphalt to smooth out the bumps. Waaah, new asphalt to slippery.” … what a bunch of sissies.

  • Butch

    Well, I guess they can stop whining today. Two riders under the previous lap record in FP3

  • Keith

    The problem with the track is it isn’t in europe…nor as sacred ground as other tracks. Elena seemed to find it just fine on a GP bike, peoples lap times are making liars out of them. So what is “the problem”? Ugly umbrella grrlz?