Valentino Rossi’s victory last year at Laguna Seca was his fi rst ever win at the American circuit. His only other podium at the USA Grand Prix was 3rd in the fi rst visit to Laguna Seca in 2005. He retired from the race with technical problems in 2006, and in 2007 was the first Michelin rider home in 4th place in a race dominated by riders using Bridgestone tyres.
Jorge Lorenzo qualified 4th last year on his debut at Laguna Seca but crashed out on the first lap of the race and suffered fractures in his right foot.
Casey Stoner completely dominated the US Grand Prix 2007; he qualified onpole, won the race by almost ten seconds after leading from start to finish and set a new lap record in the process. Last year Stoner was fastest in all practice and qualifying sessions and set a new lap record in the race, but finished 2nd after running off the track while battling with Rossi.
Last year was Andrea Dovizioso’s first race at Laguna Seca and he finished the top Honda and first Michelin rider home in 4th place. Dovizioso’s crash at Assen was only the second time that he has failed to score points in the 25 MotoGP races in which he has competed – the other was in Portugal last year when he crashed out.
Dani Pedrosa finished 2nd and set new lap record on his first visit to Laguna Seca in 2006. In 2007 he finished fifth after qualifying strongly in second place on the grid. Last year Pedrosa tried to ride in Friday practice but then withdrew from the event suffering from injuries picked up at the previous event in Germany.
Colin Edwards’ best GP result at Laguna Seca is second in 2005. His results since are: 9th in 2006 suffering from about of flu, in 2007 he was 11th having grip problems and last year he finished down in 14th suffering the same problems many of the Michelin riders experienced.
Loris Capirossi won the 250cc Grand Prix at Laguna Seca back in 1993. His best result from his four MotoGP races at Laguna is an 8th place in 2006. In 2007 he retired early in the race when his bike struck gearbox problems and last year he was 15th still suffering from injuries from his crash at the Dutch TT.
Marco Melandri finished third at Laguna Seca in 2006 and repeated the result in 2007 despite suffering a high speed crash in practice after colliding with Kurtis Roberts, which left him with several painful injuries. Last year he qualified 15th but was up to 9th after nine laps before crashing and re-starting to eventually finish 16th.
Chris Vermeulen has always performed well at Laguna Seca; in 2006 he scored his first dry weather pole position and eventually finished 5th after leading the race in the early stages before suffering engine problems. In 2007 he finished second after qualifying on the front row – this was his fi rst dry weather podium in MotoGP. Last year he finished 3rd, which is the last occasion that he has finished on the podium. Vermeulen’s 5th place finish at the Dutch TT is his best result since the San Marino GP last year.
Randy de Puniet’s 6th place finish last year at Laguna Seca was his best result of 2008. De Puniet has finished every race so far this year and after just seven races has 51 points compared to a season long total of 61 points last year.
James Toseland raced at Laguna Seca in the years 2001 to 2004 during his time competing in the Superbike series, scoring a couple of podium finishes. Last year was his first ride at the circuit on a MotoGP machine and he qualifi ed an excellent 5th on the grid but slipped down the field in the race to finish 9th.
Last year was Alex de Angelis’ first appearance at the Laguna Seca circuit and he made an instant impact with the 4th fastest time in the first practice session. However he crashed in qualifying and broke his left thumb which slowed him down in the race.Nicky Hayden won at Laguna Seca in both 2005 and 2006. He had less fortune in 2007 when he collided with John hopkins at the first corner which effectively ended his race and last year he finished 5th after qualifying on the front row of the grid.
Toni Elias’ 7th place fi nish last year at Laguna Seca is his best result at the circuit. He was 13th in 2005 still suffering injuries from a crash at a previous race, in 2006 he fell at the Corkscrew but rejoined the race to finish 15th and in 2007 he missed the race as he had not recovered from the broken femur sustained in a crash at Assen.
Niccolo Canepa and Gabor Talmacsi will all be making their first appearance at the Laguna Seca circuit.
Sete Gibernau has twice raced at Laguna Seca; in 2005 he finished 5th, just four and half seconds behind the winner after qualifying down in 13th place on the grid. In 2006 he was 10th on the Ducati after a disappointing qualifying session had him 16th on the grid.