When the history of the 2012 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is written, the accidents will certainly play an important role in the story — and so far we've only experienced the qualifying session, not the actual race! It started with Casey Stoner, but before the Indy GP qualify session was over several more riders had serious accidents as well.
The Europeans have never been shy to point out how dangerous they feel this track. Judging by how many accidents we saw just in this qualifying session, they might not be wrong.
After a mere 8 minutes into qualifying, Casey Stoner crashed with a brutal high side. He tried to stand up, but straightaway you could see something wrong with his left leg. He simply couldn't put any weight on it at all and had to summon the corner worker for help before being chauffeured away in an ambulance. It turns out he pulled a ligament in his ankle and it's unclear whether Stoner will be in Sunday's race.
At this point in the MotoGP qualifying session, #11 Ben Spies on the Yamaha Factory Racing machine was on provisional pole, running with a time of 1.39.446. Nicky Hayden's Ducati and Stefan Bradl's LCR Honda MotoGP were close behind him.
Then, at 2:12 in the afternoon, a red flag stopped the race. This sent all the riders back to the pits while the track was cleaned. With 40 minutes remaining for qualifying, they were back to qualifying and Dani Pedrosa took provisional pole with a time of 1.39.367. Soon thereafter Pedrosa, while still holding on to the pole position, entered the pit to talk to his crew and to try to find a few more horses.
With 16 minutes left in the qualifying session, Nicky Hayden was pushing his Ducati hard to improve on his his 8th place standing. Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 was also working hard to improve and he was successful, getting a time of 1.39.580 which moved him up to the 5th position.
Second & Third Accidents
Suddenly Ben Spies went down hard with another high side. Thankfully he was able to get back up and walk pretty quickly. He was able to hold on at that point to 3rd position with a time of 1.39.279 on his 16th lap.
Shortly thereafter, Nicky Hayden was thrown from the Ducati in what seemed like a slow motion crash from the movies. Hayden's back end slowly came around in turn 13, catching again for a split second then progressed back into a slide once more. Hayden was thrown over the handlebars and down the road, knocking him out cold.
With all of the technology on modern motorcycles, crashes like this are supposed to be a thing of the past — especially in a heavy lean angle situation like turn 13 here at Indy is. Sadly that wasn't the case today for Nicky as the track was given another red flag and yet another racer was given a chauffeur ride.
When the track was green again, Ben Spies made it back with his second bike, but only 8 minutes were left for qualifying by that point. With 2 minutes of qualifying left, Lorenzo was pushing to get his final lap in and maybe steal pole, but he wasn't successful and had to settle for second position on the grid.
Pedrosa also made his way out on the circuit before the clock ran out, but his hold on the pole was secure already. With a time of 1:38.850, Pedrosa broke the track's record which had been set by his teammate Casey Stoner, also during qualifying (in 2011).
So the front grid for Sunday's MotoGP is:
- Dani Pedrosa, Respol Honda #26
- Jorse Lorenzo, Factory Yamaha, #99
- Andrea Dovizioso, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, #4
- Ben Spies, Factory Yamaha, #11
- Sefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP, #6
- Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda, #1
- Cal Crutchlow. Monster Yamaha Tech 3, #35
- Nicky Hayden Ducati, #69
Rossi ended up placing 11th on his Ducati — 2012 really isn't his year.