We were up before sunrise on Race Day as we pulled on our jumpsuits and pennies, got our coffee, and headed off to the track for our last day in station F5a. We already miss our little corner station! The day started a bit chilly but quickly warmed up as the sun hit the track through the Warm Up sessions. Another clear and sunny day! We actually had to pull out our sun umbrella by midday.
Sandro Cortese held first in Moto3 Warm Up, but his teammate fell to fifth and Jonas Folger, on a Kalex KTM, picked up second. The big surprise was Marc Marquez in Moto2 Warm Up where he finished the session almost a second faster than Pol Espargaro, who ended up third after Nicolas Terol. Ben Spies came back after his big crash and dominated in MotoGP and finished fastest in Warm Up, actually beating his own Qualifying time. Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo followed in times. Casey Stoner cleared to race with an injured ankle finished sixth just over a second behind Spies. We learned later that day that Stoner had a few fractures and torn ligaments from his highside the day before and because of his mobility, doctors cleared him to race. His boot was modified with supports and he had an injection before the race to help with the pain. This wasn’t the first time we’d heard about a rider toughing out the pain in order to race to keep a championship bid alive, though this was the first time we had seen it in person. You could clearly see the pain it was causing Stoner to ride, he was not as aggressive as usual and his performance in Warm Up certainly reflected it as well. These guys are definitely super human aliens!!
The Warm Up sessions were followed by 20 minutes of Randy Mamola scaring the bejesus out of a few spectators in MotoX wheeling past our station. With much so weight in the rear of the modified Desmosedici GP6 900 and his probably eighth-turn throttle, I’m not sure how he was able to keep the front wheel down! As Mamola was doing flybys on the track, Red Bull was ‘flying’ by with a stunt show in the sky. I can’t think of any better entertainment while we waited for the races to commence.
Promptly at 10:45am we were called back to our stations to get ready for the Moto3 23 lap race. There was quite an intense battle for first throughout the entire race to the end. There was a definite front pack which took the lead away from the rest of the riders. Luis Salom patiently waited for someone to make a mistake and took full advantage of it. Efren Vazquez crashed ahead of Salom moving him up to fourth. He quickly moved passed Zulfahmi Khairuddin who was slowly losing momentum, having already been passed by Maverick Viñales and Sandro Cortese. With Salom still behind Viñales and Cortese, he planned his attack carefully on gaining on the two front runners as they were battling for position. On the last lap, as Viñales went to pass Cortese on the inside, Salom set up his move and slid into first on the inside of both riders! Cortese attempted to pass back on the outside but ended up going wide which allowed Viñales by as well. Viñales, still fighting for that first position, made a mistake on the last turn before the straight and went wide which caused him to low side, giving Cortese second. This also bumped Jonas Folger who was three seconds behind the top three onto the podium in third place. It was a spectacular first win in Moto3 for Luis Salom!
The Moto2 26 lap race followed and didn’t disappoint! Andrea Iannone took an early lead followed by Pol Espargaro. Dominique Aegerter soon overtook both to take the lead. Marc Marquez who didn’t have a great start, even though he was second in qualifying, purposefully rolled his way passed Ianonne and Espargaro and finally Aegerter early in the race. Once Marquez had a clear track past the other riders, he took off! Espargaro never had a chance to catch him while battling with the pack. With a spectacular lead, Marquez won completely uncontested almost six seconds ahead of Espargaro and over nine seconds ahead of Julian Simon, who took third place on the podium. While the podium presentations were happening at the Winner’s Circle, the Red Bull Air Show came back out and entertained the spectators around the massive track!
2:00pm marked the start of the much anticipated MotoGP 28 lap race. Dani Pedrosa had a brilliant start from pole position, rocketing off the line. Ben Spies followed Pedrosa closely with an amazing start from the second row. Spies quickly took advantage of his position and pushed past Pedrosa to take the lead by the time he reached our station. Unsuccessfully trying to contain our excitement for the fellow American, I believe I may have been jumping and cheering him past our corner!! Spies and Pedrosa swapped places down the straight a few times with Spies always coming out first in T1 and us cheering him on at T5. Spies, on board his Factory Yamaha, held Pedrosa off as long as he could until a few laps later when he was finally out powered down the straight into T1. Out powered and under-weighted by Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda, Spies fell off Pedrosa’s lead. Spies looked like he was going to secure a solid second place with the rest of the pack far behind when suddenly his continued misfortune made its appearance about six laps into the race. As he tucked into the straight, a huge white plume of smoke shot out from his bike and we could see him pull off the line toward pit wall before he reached T1. We could hear the gasps from the stands and the commentators from our turn, which mirrored our disappointment as well! Unsure whether Spies’ Yamaha had leaked any fluids on the track surface, the rest of the pack cautiously navigated their way through the billowing smoke cloud on the front straight. This gave Pedrosa an exceptional lead from Jorge Lorenzo who, after Spies’ mechanical, was in second place. The rest of the pack spread out with seconds apart for the rest of the race. Toward the end of the race, we were aware that the leaders were going to start overtaking back markers. Watching attentively with the blue passing flag in my hand, we saw that Lorenzo would come up hot behind Steve Rapp near our turn. As Rapp came out of T4, I was leaned out of our window in the chain link wall, waving the blue flag furiously at him as I could see Lorenzo rolling on right behind him. Rapp obviously ignored my blue flag completely trying to race against being lapped by Lorenzo, holding him up several turns slowing him down by almost 3 seconds. Lorenzo who was keenly aware of how far ahead Pedrosa was, and how far behind Andrea Dovizioso sat, patiently waited it out to carefully pass Rapp, already knowing that being more cautious would not change the results of the race. The race ended with Pedrosa in first, 10 seconds ahead of Lorenzo, and 17 seconds ahead of Dovizioso in third. Stoner came in an impressive fourth with a broken ankle. On the cool down lap, several riders including Rossi and Hayden rode past us in big wheelies as we waved our flags out at them in excitement. The one rider not in celebration was Stoner, slumped over his bike with both legs dangling in obvious pain from his injury. We clapped and cheered for him in hopes it would lessen his pain and help give him the drive to make it around the rest of the track to pit in. The dedication and passion these riders have was painfully apparent, and gave me an even deeper appreciation for our sport. It also opened my eyes to the realities of riding at that level, being the best in the world! I have to say, thank you for sharing your passion with us!
The AMA Pro XR1200 10 lap Race 2 was the last race of the day. After the drama from Saturday’s Race 1, we were hoping that P.J. Jacobson would come back and redeem himself! P.J. took the lead right off the line. Tyler O’Hara, not giving up, gave chase but was unable to keep up. About half way through the race, we saw PJ round T1 with a huge gap between him and O’Hara that we were sure he was going to easily maintain, but as he braked into T4, his front end washed out and he crashed. If you have ever met P.J., he’s not exactly a big guy, and he struggled a bit to pick his 550+ lbs. bike up. The corner marshals came to help him but by the time he got back into the race he had lost all chances of standing on the podium eventually finishing in a disappointing 23rd. O’Hara however took full advantage of P.J.’s misfortune and took a commanding win. If you look at the highlight reel posted by AMA Pro Racing, you even get to see O’Hara demonstrating a Rollie for his team as he passed the checkered flag when he saw that Kyle Wyaman, Benjarmin Carlson and Bobby Fong were too far behind to catch him!
After the races, we did get to walk around a bit to see the spectacle of the GP. Tired from the day, we cleaned up and headed downtown to dinner at the historic St. Elmo Steak House. As we sat at the bar waiting for our table we heard Scott Russell’s unmistakable accent walk by behind us and as we glanced down the bar from us sat a downtrodden Ben Spies with Tyson Beckford. Not knowing whether to congratulate him or pat him on the back and buy him a drink for his bike exploding, we passed the moment by as we were called to our table for dinner. Reveling in the excitement of the weekend with our friends, we were also sad that it was over and that we had to head back to the normal goings on of our lives.
Thanks for a great weekend Indianapolis!