August 23, 2011
American Ben Spies took pole position at Indianapolis last year, and finished the race in second position.
With eleven races down and seven to go, Casey Stoner (Honda) rolls into Indianapolis this weekend with a 32 point lead over Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and a head full of confidence. Lorenzo knows he needs to start winning races if he is going to defend his championship from last year. The only other rider seemingly capable of winning races at this point is Dani Pedrosa (Honda), but thanks to injuries sustained earlier in the year and missed races, Pedrosa is likely out of the championship equation as he sits more than 100 points behind Stoner in fifth position.
New pavement at Indy will make it much easier for the teams to set up their bikes this year. The Americans, of course, will be trying their best to impress the home fans, particularly, Nicky Hayden (Ducati) who hails from this part of the United States.
The two Texans, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards, will be aboard their Yamahas pushing hard as well. Spies, of course, having won a race this year, and sitting above the two other Americans in the points, might be the one to watch most closely. If he can qualify well, he will be expecting nothing less than a win on home soil. Edwards has struggled this year, for the most part, and might be lucky to finish in the top five.
As everyone seems to know by now, Ducati is struggling, and hence Hayden is struggling. A top five would be a good result for Nicky this weekend, although you know he wants something better.
It will also be interesting to watch Marco Simoncelli (Honda) following his first podium at the MotoGP level recorded in the last race. He is very fast, as we know, but can he find the consistency to podium again at Indianapolis?
In the end, it is hard to bet against a Stoner/Lorenzo dog fight for the win, as we have seen at some of the earlier rounds. The Yamaha has improved, and both Spies and Lorenzo will do their best to push a couple of Hondas off the podium, just as they did last year (finishing second and third).