During last year’s race at Laguna Seca, Jorge Lorenzo was only able to achieve the last podium spot after starting on the pole.
But during this year’s race at Laguna Seca, Round 9 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, the Fiat Yamaha rider capitalized tremendously on his pole position, taking the checkered flag after 32 laps on the 2.243-mile circuit in Monterey, Calif.
Lorenzo was followed to the checkered flag at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix 3.517 seconds later by Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner. The returning and healing Valentino Rossi took third.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I am so happy to win here at Laguna Seca, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. I rode so well today, right on the limit and I had to push very hard to stay in touch with Dani. He is always so strong on race day but I knew if I kept the pressure on him then there was a chance he would make a mistake and I would be able to catch him.”
“I’m sorry he crashed but from then on it was very easy for me because I had a big gap from Casey. I really enjoyed riding my M1! I have a big lead in the championship but there is half of the season left and it wouldn’t be the first time a rider has lost the title with such a big lead, so we can’t take anything for granted. I am really looking forward to some time to relax now after two very busy months. Thanks to everyone in my team for doing a brilliant job.”
Halfway through the season, Lorenzo now has 210 points. The man he was leading in the championship, fellow countryman Dani Pedrosa, now sits 78 points behind, which is mostly due to his high-speed crash at turn 5 with 21 laps to go.
Starting from fourth on the grid, Pedrosa was fastest. The Repsol Honda rider got out front quickly, with Stoner trailing and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies in third. The American started in fifth on the grid, Stoner in second. The pole-sitter Lorenzo was pushed back to fourth. Stoner would remain in second for the entire race.
Casey Stoner says: “The bike felt good at the start of the race but at this circuit you always have to wait for a lap, a lap and a half for the tyres to warm up. As soon as everything felt alright I thought I’d try to push and make a pass on Dani for the lead but I immediately lost the front. I pulled myself back together and tried to hunt him down again but made another little mistake.”
“Another lap or two later I closed the front again and ran well wide, I was almost off the track. At that point I decided just to gather myself, ride smooth and consistent and try not to lose too much time to the two guys in front of me. I started to pull them in but lost the front again. It was a shame because the bike felt good around most of the circuit, we just struggled with the front in a couple of corners. Having said that I’m happy and thankful to my guys because we were able to put up more of a fight this weekend.”
The healing Rossi held on for third, his best finish since returning to action. Less than two months ago Rossi was thrown off his bike at Mugello. He sustaied a compound fracture, but a had remarkable recovery, arriving back in action last week at Sachsenring. During that race, he missed the podium by just 0.2 of a second.
Valentino Rossi says: “It was a good result for us and very important to come back on the podium so soon after the crash. It’s been a difficult weekend for us, with problems in every session, but this morning we found a good set-up for the race. It took me a few laps to find my rhythm and I had a great battle with Dovizioso at the end. After Casey beat me last week I was determined not to make the same mistake and I rode a very good last lap.”
Spies appeared strong at the track containing 13 corners, the Texan having much experience at the track. He won two events while competing in AMA Superbike, and finished eight while racing as a wildcard in 2008.
But on lap three, Spies was passed by Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, Rossi and Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden, placing him in seventh. On the same lap, Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista and Paginas Amarillas Aspar rider Hector Barbera crashed out.
Lorenzo began charging, and with 24 to go he made it into second after Stoner went wide, letting the Spaniard through with ease. Lorenzo began chasing down Pedrosa, and two laps later he had the gap down to 0.782 of a second.
But Lorenzo wouldn’t have to worry about decreasing that gap much longer. With 21 laps to go, Pedrosa crashed out at Turn 5; the Spaniard tipped it going into Turn 5, a turn that requires heavy braking at speeds around 170 mph. This gave Lorenzo the lead with 20 laps to go, and he wasn’t challenged for the remainder of the race. The top five at this point was Lorenzo, Stoner, Dovizioso, Rossi and Nicky Hayden.
Nicky, who was the last American to win at Laguna in 2006, wouldn’t remain in fifth for long, though. With 12 to go, Spies’ experience at the track began showing, and he blew past Hayden. He then set out after reigning champ VR 46.
But the wounded “Doctor” fought hard, not allowing Spies to pass. On lap 26, Spies fight for the podium was over, the American running wide and dropping back to sixth.
Rossi suddenly didn’t appear wounded, and with five laps remaining, he chased down Dovizioso, passing his fellow Italian in the Andretti Hairpin.
And as the field battled for a better finish, the leader Lorenzo was in complete control, his nearest challenger Stoner almost four seconds behind.
When he crossed the finish line, Lorenzo took his sixth win of the season, extending his lead in a possibly his first MotoGP championship season. Following him to the line was Stoner in second, Rossi in third, Dovizioso in fourth and Hayden in fifth.
Lorenzo celebrated by his typical theatrics, this time pretending to walk on the moon, but landing a Lorenzo flag on Laguna Seca.
The remaining top ten were Spies, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri, Pramac Racing Ducati rider Mika Kallio and Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi.
Besides Barbera, Bautista and Pedrosa, the rookie Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) crashed out with 14 laps to go, and Aleix Espargaro (Pramac Racing Team) with four laps to go.
2010 MotoGP Laguna Seca Results:
1. (99) Jorge LORENZO, SPA, Fiat Yamaha Team 43:54.873
2. (27) Casey STONER, AUS, Ducati Team +3.517
3. (46) Valentino ROSSI, ITA, Fiat Yamaha Team +13.420
4. (4) Andrea DOVIZIOSO, ITA, Repsol Honda Team +14.188
5. (69) Nicky HAYDEN, USA, Ducati Team 0+14.601
6. (11) Ben SPIES, USA, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +19.037
7. (5) Colin EDWARDS, USA, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +40.721
8. (33) Marco MELANDRI, ITA, San Carlo Honda Gresini +47.219
9. (36) Mika KALLIO, FIN, Pramac Racing Team Ducati +52.813
10. (65) Loris CAPIROSSI, ITA, Rizla Suzuki +52.814
11. (95) Roger Lee HAYDEN, USA, LCR Honda +1:14.089
12. (15) Alex DE ANGELIS, RSM, Interwetten Honda +1’14.666
2010 MotoGP Points Standings (after 9 of 18 rounds):
1. Jorge LORENZO, 210
2. Dani Pedrosa, 138
3. Andrea Dovizioso, 115
4. Casey Stoner, 103
5. Valentino Rossi, 90
6. Nicky Hayden, 89
7. Ben Spies, 77
8. Randy de Puniet, 69
9. Marco Melandri, 53
10. Marco Simoncelli, 49
11. Colin Edwards, 48
12. Hector Barbera, 41
13. Loris Capirossi, 36
14. Mika Kallio, 31
15. Aleix Espargaro, 28
16. Alvaro Bautista, 25
17. Hiroshi Aoyama, 18
18. Alex de Angelis, 8
19. Rogery Lee Hayden, 5
20. Kousuke Akiyoshi, 4
21. Watura Yoshikawa, 1