Indianapolis. The Brickyard. Famous across the United States for...You know, I honestly don't know what it's famous for. Perhaps someone could enlighten me.
Anyway, last year's inaugural MotoGP round at the famous circuit was pretty grim. It was cold, wet and windy, and the conditions made the race rather more of a lottery than usual. And first impressions seemed to suggest that this year was going to be more of the same, as the leaden skies closed in and dumped their contents all over the circuit for Friday practice.
Now Dani Pedrosa is renowned as not being a good wet weather rider. He's also renowned for being miserable, but that's another matter linked only by the fact that both seem not to be true. Pedrosa proved himself to be an absolute master of the dreadful conditions, putting the Repsol Honda way clear of the pursuing pack and appearing to thoroughly enjoy himself as well. The usual suspects - Lorenzo, Rossi and so on - couldn't really do little except squabble for the minor places among themselves.
But of course practice doesn't mean much. Especially when Saturday looks suspiciously as though it'll be a nice day and you've got absolutely zero dry setup data. Mind you, that didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference as Pedrosa stayed at the top of the timesheets for second practice and then nailed pole with a new record time (not hard, considering what it was like last year) that was over half a second faster than second placed Lorenzo and nearly a second quicker than Rossi, who closed out the front row. Alex de Angelis headed row two from Colin Edwards, who stayed fifth despite a crash and Nicky Hayden enjoying something of a renaissance on the Ducati. Toni Elias also crashed but still managed to head row three, with Dovizioso and Melandri next to him, while James Toseland rounded out the top ten in something approaching a return to form.
Race day was even better. Sunny and warm, with a gentle breeze. Pretty much perfect for racing, in fact. Lights out and it will, I'm sure, not surprise you at all to hear that Pedrosa got the holeshot and scorched off into the lead, while Rossi out-dragged Lorenzo as usual to slot into second place ahead of his team-mate. Colin Edwards slotted in just behind, which is always good to see, with de Angelis and Hayden just behind.
And so it stayed for three laps, with Rossi hounding Pedrosa and pushing ever harder until the inevitable happened - the Spaniard, despite having clear air between himself and Rossi, overcooked his entry to a corner, locked the front and slid out. Luckily for him he was able to got the bike up and running and rejoin the race, apparently none the worse for the experience but way down in last place. So it looked as though it was going to be another Rossi walkover as the Italian extended his lead further and further, towing Lorenzo along with him for a guaranteed Yamaha one-two. But Lorenzo wasn't just getting a tow, he was catching his illustrious team-mate. And on lap nine he struck, slipping past at the end of the main straight. And a few corners later it was all over as Valentino Rossi, eight times World Champion, made an unforced error and crashed out of contention. Again he was able to restart, but while Pedrosa had suffered no ill effects, Rossi's bike was clearly no longer up to the task required of it and the champion retired after just three more laps.
By this stage, Lorenzo was so far ahead that the TV cameras weren't really watching him because there wasn't a race to see. And in truth the whole thing got somewhat processional at this point. Dani Pedrosa rode like a demon to eleventh while the unfortunate Melandri retired with just a few laps to go. The only people who really kept it interesting were Chris Vermeulen and Pedrosa, both of whom were riding as though their careers depended on it. There may be some logic to this.
So from lap ten onwards there were no notable position changes other than the steady rise of Pedrosa and Vermeulen through the ranks.
Jorge Lorenzo won convincingly, taking himself back into striking distance of Rossi, Alex de Angelis dod himself and his career prospects no harm at all with a solid second place. And it was great to see Nicky Hayden make it back onto the podium after something of a drought, too. Dovizioso was an honourable fourth with Colin Edwards and James Toseland formation flying in fifth and sixth respectively.
Not the most exciting GP ever, by a long chalk. But the atmosphere was great and it certainly did the championship some good.
Over to Misano next, to race in Valentino Rossi's back garden. I wonder how he'll redeem himself.
Indianapolis MotoGP Results
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Alex de Angelis (Honda)
3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)
5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
6. James Toseland (Yamaha)
7. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)
8. Toni Elias (Honda)
9. Mika Kallio (Ducati)
10. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
MotoGP standings (after twelve rounds)
1. Valentino Rossi 212
2. Jorge Lorenzo 187
3. Casey Stoner 150
4. Dani Pedrosa 141
5. Colin Edwards 123
6. Andrea Dovizioso 120
7. Alex de Angelis 88
8. Loris Capirossi 86
9. Randy de Puniet 84
10. Marco Melandri 79