The 2009 Indianapolis Grand Prix began today as the 2008 event finished – wet. Thankfully however, the hurricane force winds that played havoc with last year’s race at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway stayed away this time, and it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who made the best of the conditions to set the fastest time in the weekend’s first hour-long practice session.
In fact both Pedrosa and his Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso displayed impressive commitment on the wet track, with each rider spending time at the top of the timesheets as the famous “brickyard” welcomed MotoGP for a second year. For the first 20 minutes of the session as the track got increasingly wet, Dovizioso set the pace on his factory RC212V, displaying the peerless ability in tricky conditions that saw him win the British Grand Prix at Donington in July and lead the first two laps of last year’s race here.
After Dovizioso’s early showing it was Pedrosa’s turn to take the lead, confidently using Bridgestone’s treaded wet tyres to maximum effect and achieving inspiring angles of lean on the track’s grippy surface. His fastest lap of 1m 51.507s was set in the first half of the session and, though some riders came close in the dying moments, his impressive mark remained unchallenged.
In the final flurry, Dovizioso slipped to 9th but, with dry weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, today’s practice session could prove to be academic and both Repsol Honda riders are confident of another strong showing in tomorrow’s two sessions.
DANI PEDROSA – 1st – 1m 51.507s
“This was a very good start to the weekend and in wet conditions we are looking in good shape. It was raining for the whole session and we had good grip, even though there were some big patches of standing water around the track. I felt confident and was able to push hard – and actually it’s been a quite long time since I’ve felt that confident in wet conditions and been happy to push to the maximum. If it’s dry tomorrow, that’s also good for us, even though the only thing we can really take forward from today’s session is the gearing information. This track is unusual to ride because it’s been designed to run in the other direction and so the apex of some of the corners feels very strange. Still, even in the rain there is a unique atmosphere here and it’s a special place to ride.”
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 9th – 1m 53.151
“I was fast early in the session and overall I’m satisfied with how today went. It was a difficult practice session because it was raining a lot and the different types of tarmac at this track responded in a different way. There were also some big puddles out there which made things tricky. At the beginning I was riding with a good rhythm and going quickly, but I couldn’t improve my lap time at the end of the session because we decided to use only one tyre and spare our wet tyre allocation for the weekend. So by the end the tyres had become slick and it was difficult to control the bike, especially on the dark asphalt. I’m not worried about today’s position though. The conditions were particular for this situation and the weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is good, so I’m confident that I can improve.”
KAZUHIKO YAMANO – REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
“Both riders did a good job this afternoon and we are looking quite strong in the wet conditions. For the rest of the weekend it looks like we may have dry weather so tomorrow’s two sessions will be very important. We had very little dry track time last year which means there’s still plenty of work to do to be fully prepared for Sunday’s race. The Repsol Honda team is very motivated at the moment and both riders are in good condition so we’ll be looking for a strong weekend for all the Honda fans here in America.”