After a three week break following the Laguna Seca round, the MotoGP circus returns to the United States at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. Rookie Marc Marquez (Honda) leads the championship by 16 points over teammate Dani Pedrosa as we begin the second half of the series that will see three races on succeeding weekends with Indy followed by Brno and Silverstone.
Three riders will be testing their weakened shoulders at Indy. Defending champ Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) says he is still not 100% following back-to-back surgeries (including the final one just prior to the Laguna Seca race), and Dani Pedrosa states his own collarbone break, although coming along as expected, will not be fully healed for several weeks. Both Lorenzo and Pedrosa are staying close to points leader Marquez, and will salvage as many points as they can over the next several weeks.
Returning this weekend after a long break is Ben Spies on his Pramac Ducati. Spies first injured his shoulder at Malaysia in 2012, and tried to race earlier this year with little luck before taking an extended break. Spies says his shoulder (which required the repair of significant soft tissue damage) is ready to go, but he is obviously very rusty. Since there is no training quite like riding a MotoGP bike, one would have to conclude Spies’ fitness during the race might be an issue. We will see.
Lorenzo and teammate Valentino Rossi recently completed a test at Brno, which apparently helped Lorenzo tremendously by loosening up his sore shoulder, and helping him find some rhythm before the race this weekend.
Another interesting story this weekend will be the performance of Ducati’s Nicky Hayden at his home race following the announcement that Ducati will not renew his MotoGP contract for next year. Hayden’s future is apparently still uncertain, although Ducati has stated it is trying to find a spot for him in either MotoGP (on a satellite team) or WSB, and a rumor has been floating that a Honda WSB ride has been offered to Hayden with funding coming from the United States division of Honda.
Marquez has had great success at Indy aboard Moto2 bikes, so he is confident as he makes his debut at the circuit on a MotoGP machine. Indy is an interesting track for many reasons, not the least of which is its extremely long straight that may yield top speeds close to 350 kilometers per hour (close to 220 mph). All in all, it should be a very interesting weekend in MotoGP.