The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, Round 9 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, marks the halfway point of the season. The meeting this weekend at Mazda Raceway also begins a hectic five-race schedule in only six weeks for the quickest motorcycle racers worldwide.
Points leader Jorge Lorenzo arrives at the 2.243-mile track in Monterey, Calif., with a 47-point lead over Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa. The Fiat Yamaha rider is dominating this year, winning five of the first eight rounds, and placing second in the remaining three.
But the 23-year-old has quite a record of crashes in his first two years at Laguna Seca in the premier class. In his debut season in 2008, he crashed on the first lap, fracturing his foot. Last year, he crashed towards the end of his pole-position qualifying session. Although the Spaniard rode with much pain from a broken shoulder, he still finished third behind his teammate Valentino Rossi and race-winner Pedrosa.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I have had some crashes there but last year I also took the pole and made it onto the podium. We come from a second place in Sachsenring and our target remains the same, to be consistent and to always aim for the podium. Before the race we will go to see Jay Leno and also I will hopefully visit the headquarters of Twitter in LA.”
As stated before, Pedrosa was the winner last year, taking victory by 0.344 of a second over Rossi. The Spaniard will also be chasing a back-to-back victory after winning last week at Sachsenring.
Dani Pedrosa says: “When everything is in place like this we have the level to compete with any of our rivals and to beat them – and that’s what I want to achieve again. We had a great race in Laguna Seca last year and we were able to win, so I would love to go on holiday after this weekend with another victory under our belts.”
Sitting in third with 102 points is Pedrosa’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian has yet to score a victory this season, and placed fourth at last year’s US Grand Prix.
Andrea Dovizioso says: “We are completely focused on getting a strong finish this weekend before we head into the MotoGP summer break. Last year I was fast at Laguna and I was having a great race until unfortunately I clipped the plastic poles at the exit of pitlane at high speed and it damaged my clutch lever, which later contributed to my crash.”
Holding fourth and fifth places in the championship are Ducati Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden, respectively. Like Dovizioso, Stoner and Hayden are also seeking his first victory of the season. Stoner has won at Laguna, and Hayden has also tasted victory there.
Casey Stoner says: “Laguna is a circuit I have always liked because it’s tough but great fun and it follows the natural undulations and direction changes of the land. I also enjoy the raucous but respectful atmosphere that the American fans provide. Naturally I am looking for a good result but I don’t want to make any predictions because recently we have been close to the front without managing to finish with the result we want.”
Nicky Hayden says: ”I can’t wait to get to Laguna, a circuit that is extremely special to me. It is tough but really nice and it is where I won my first GP. I’m not just saying it because I’m American but it really is a unique place. There isn’t really a straight – all the corners run into each other and they are a mixture of fast and slow bends. The Corkscrew is unique, a three-storey drop with a blind entry – you feel like you’re taking off into space.”
But Hayden’s win in 2006 was the last time an American was on the podium at home race. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards is looking for a podium there, and so will his teammate Ben Spies. The Texan Spies has much AMA Superbike experience there, and also an eight-place finish in 2008 while competing as a wildcard entry.
Nine-Time World Champion Rossi arrives at Laguna after returning just last week. Rossi, who broke his leg at Mugello, has won at Laguna (2008), and is looking to grab some points after missing four rounds due to recovering. Also, the 31-year-old Italian has never started from the pole at Laguna Seca. According to MotoGP, it is the only one of the current circuits, at which he has taken part in a Grand Prix, where has not had a pole in the premier class.
Valentino Rossi says: “I was so happy to be back in Sachsenring and to be fighting for the podium, even though I just missed out, was more than we could have hoped for. I still have some pain in my leg but I am growing stronger every day and I hope this week that I will be in better shape once again and I can try to improve a little bit more. Laguna is different to anywhere else we go but it’s always great fun to ride there and the last two years I’ve had great races.”
World Superbike rider Roger Lee Hayden will substitute for LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, who broke his leg during a fiery crash in Germany. The wildcard rider will join his brother, and be the fourth American competing at Laguna.
MotoGP says San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri, Páginas Amarillas Aspar rookie Héctor Barberá, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista and Pramac Racing duo Aleix Espargaró and Mika Kallio will all be looking for strong results, with Alex de Angelis continuing on the RC212V of the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team as a substitute for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama.
Besides the non-stop action of MotoGP, Laguna Seca will also host AMA Pro Racing this weekend. America’s finest racers in AMA Superbike, AMA Daytona Sportbike, AMA Supersport and the all-new XR1200 Series will compete alongside the MotoGP stars.
MotoGP TV Schedule:
The race will be aired at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 25, on SPEED TV.
2010 MotoGP Standings (after 8 of 18 rounds):
1. Jorge LORENZO, Yamaha, SPA 185
2. Dani PEDROSA, Honda, SPA 138
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Honda, ITA 102
4. Casey STONER, Ducati, AUS 83
5. Nicky HAYDEN, Ducati, USA 78
6. Valentino ROSSI, Yamaha, ITA 74
7. Randy DE PUNIET, Honda, FRA 69
8. Ben SPIES, Yamaha, USA 67
9. Marco SIMONCELLI, Honda, ITA 49
10. Marco MELANDRI, Honda, ITA, 45
11. Hector BARBERA, Ducati, SPA 41
12. Colin EDWARDS, Yamaha, USA 39
13. Loris CAPIROSSI, Suzuki, ITA 30
14. Aleix ESPARGARO, Ducati, SPA 28
15. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Suzuki, SPA 25
16. Mika KALLIO, Ducati, FIN 24
17. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Honda, JPN 18
18. Alex DE ANGELIS, Honda, RSM, 4
19. Kousuke AKIYOSHI, Honda, JPN 4
20. Wataru YOSHIKAWA, Yamaha, JPN 1