Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 Indianapolis Grand Prix Preview

After a month off for a summer break, MotoGP and the entire Grand Prix Motorcycle tour returns to the United States and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for eighth edition of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Defending world champion Marc Márquez has four victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with each victory coming in the last four years. Honda has won the last five Indianapolis Grands Prix after Yamaha won the first two.

Valentino Rossi, the inaugural winner of the Indianapolis Grand Prix, leads the world championship standings with 179 points. The Italian has won three of nine races this year and he has finished every race on the podium. Despite winning the inaugural MotoGP race at Indianapolis, Rossi has struggled at Indianapolis having failed to make it back to the podium until last year when he finished third. Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo is second in the championship, 13 points back. Lorenzo won four consecutive races (Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona) but has only one other podium this season. Lorenzo won the 2009 Indianapolis Grand Prix and has six podiums in seven starts at Indianapolis.

Ducati rider Andrea Iannone finds himself third in the championship, 61 points back of his fellow countryman. Iannone finished second at Mugello after starting on pole position and he finished third at the season opener at Qatar. His worst finish this season is sixth but his track record at Indianapolis is poor. In seven starts, he has three retirements and his best finish was fourth in Moto2 in 2010. In Iannone's two MotoGP starts at Indianapolis he has finished 11th and retired. Ducati has never won at Indianapolis.

Marc Márquez has won every MotoGP race he has entered in the United States with three victories at Circuit of the Americas, two at Indianapolis and one at Laguna Seca. Márquez also won his two Moto2 starts at Indianapolis. The defending world champion has had a difficult title defense. He retired in Argentina after leading majority of that race after he made contact with Rossi with two to go. He retired at Mugello and retired after three laps at Barcelona. The last two rounds have gone much more in Márquez's favor. At Assen, Márquez gave Rossi a run for his money and nearly pulled off a last-lap pass for the victory but came home second. At the Sachsenring, Márquez won from pole position. The Spaniard trails Rossi by 65 points with nine races remaining.

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and Tech3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith are tied for fifth in the championship on 87 points with Dovizioso owning the tiebreaker with three runner-up finishes while Smith's best finish is fifth. Dovizioso's finished in the top five in his first five Indianapolis appearances but his last two races have been his worst. The Italian has retired from three of the last four races with his lone finish in that timespan being 12th at Assen. Smith's worst finish in 2015 is eighth. His best Indianapolis finish is second in 125cc in 2009.

Dani Pedrosa has 67 points from six starts as he missed three of the first four races after having surgery on his arm. Pedrosa finished second to Márquez in German. Pedrosa has two victories and four podiums at Indianapolis. A point behind Pedrosa is LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow. The British rider's best finish this season is third at Argentina but he has retired from three races this year. Crutchlow's best finish at Indianapolis is fifth.

Spaniards Pol Espargaró for Tech3 and Suzuki's Maverick Viñales round out the top ten with 64 and 57 points respectively. Pol won the 2009 125cc race at Indianapolis and has five podiums at the track. Viñales is the top rookie in MotoGP and has three podiums in four starts at Indianapolis but has yet to stand on the top step of the podium. Pramac Racing Ducati's Danilio Petrucci has finished in the points in every race and is 11th on 51 points. However, Petrucci has never finished in the points at Indianapolis. Suzuki's Aleix Espargaró rounds out the top twelve on 44 points and he won pole position at Barcelona.

Nicky Hayden will be riding an Open class Aspar Honda. The 2006 world champion has eight points this season with his best finish being 11th at Le Mans. That was his last finish in the points. Hayden has finished 16th, on the cusp of points, in the last two races. Hayden missed last year's Indianapolis Grand Prix due to injury. The Kentucky Kid has scored points in every Indianapolis race has started.

Frenchman Johann Zarco leads the Moto2 championship with the same amount points that Rossi has in MotoGP, 179. Zarco has three victories this year and has finished on the podium in every race but the season opener at Qatar, where he finished eighth. Zarco has not had great results at Indianapolis. His best finish is fifth but he has finished outside the top ten on three occasions.

Defending Moto2 champion Esteve Rabat trails Zarco by 65 points. Rabat won at Mugello and has five podiums this year but he retired in the most recent race in Germany. Rabat won the 2013 Moto2 race at Indianapolis. British rider Sam Lowes is 72 points behind Zarco. Lowes won in Austin earlier this year. He finished 24th in his Indianapolis debut last year. Rookie Álex Rins is 76 points back of Zarco and he has four podiums but has yet to score a victory. Rins won the 2013 Moto3 race at Indianapolis. Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi rounds out the top five, 80 behind Zarco. Lüthi won at Le Mans but his only other podium this season was a third at Qatar. His best finish at Indianapolis is fifth.

Belgian Xaiver Siméon is sixth on 84 points and his coming off his first career win in Moto2 at the Sachsenring. He also finished second at Qatar. German Jonas Folger won at Qatar and Jerez and is seven points behind Siméon. Folger's two victories are his only podium this year and his next best finish is seventh. Folger finished third at Indianapolis in the 2009 Moto3 race. Franco Morbidelli is eighth on 62 points. Mika Kallio and Julián Simón round out the top ten, each tied on 47 points. Kallio won last year's Moto2 race at Indianapolis but his best finish in 2015 is fourth. Simón has two podiums at Indianapolis with second in the 2010 Moto2 race being his best finish.

Before Kallio's victory, Spaniards had won the last four Moto2 races at Indianapolis. Marco Simoncelli won the inaugural Moto2/250cc race at Indianapolis in 2009. The 2008 race was cancelled due to Hurricane Ike.

British rider Danny Kent has won five of nine races this year, including the most recent round in Germany and leads the Moto3 championship with 190 points. Kent has finished on the podium in all but one race this year and his worst finish was fourth at Le Mans. Kent has made four starts at Indianapolis with his best finish being 12th.

Sixty-six points behind Kent is Enea Bastianini. The Italian has four podiums this year but has yet to score a victory. The 17-year old has yet to win in Moto3 in 27 starts. He has five runner-up finishes in his career. Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira is 88 points behind Kent despite having won two races this year. Oliveira did not start in Germany and he also failed to score points in the first two rounds of the season.

Romano Fenati is 91 points back of Kent and won at Le Mans. Fenati finished second in last year's Moto3 race at Indianapolis. Efrén Vázquez won last year's Moto3 race at Indianapolis. It was his first career grand prix victory. He now finds himself fifth in the Moto3 championship, trailing his teammate Kent by 94 points. Vázquez has four podiums this year and is coming off a runner-up finish in German.

South African Brad Binder trails Kent by 115 points. His best finish this season was a third in Argentina. The top rookie in Moto3 is 16-year old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, who is a point behind Binder. Quartararo has two runner-up finishes this year and he started on pole for his home race at Le Mans. Isaac Viñales, older brother of Maverick Viñales, has 64 points and his best finish this year was third in Argentina. Isaac has yet to win in 64 Moto3/125cc starts and has had two runner-up finishes.

Italians Niccolò Antonelli and Francesco Bagnaia round out the top ten with 60 and 55 points respectively. Antonelli's best finish this year is fourth while Bagnaia finished third at Le Mans. Rookie Jorge Navarro has 54 points in 11th. Twelfth is Aleix Masbou, who won the season opener in Qatar but his next best finish this season was eighth in Germany.

All seven Moto3/125cc races at Indianapolis have been won by Spaniards.

Marc Márquez continues his winning streak in the United States. Valentino Rossi does not finish on the podium. Nicky Hayden finishes in the points. Álex Rins gets his first career Moto2 victory. The Moto3 winner will not be a Spaniard. At least one race is decided by less than a tenth of a second.

The Moto3 race will be at 11:00 a.m. ET with the Moto2 race at 12:20 p.m. ET. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast all three races from Indianapolis. The Moto3 race will be shown tape-delayed at noon ET with Moto2 following, also tape-delayed at 1:00 p.m. ET. The MotoGP Indianapolis Grand Prix will be broadcasted live at 2:00 p.m. ET.