US MotoGP: Americans Endure Laguna
Laguna Seca Results, Americans
The 2010 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca this weekend was a treat for the MotoGP fans who admire American riders. At Round 9 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, four Americans were on the grid, and three of them finished in the top 10, the other only one position off.
The Americans competing before the 51,436 fans at Mazda Raceway were Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, Monster 3 Tech Yamaha riders Ben Spies and Colin Edwards, and Nicky’s younger brother, Roger Lee Hayden, who rode as a wildcard for LCR Honda (the team’s usual rider, Randy de Puniet, is out after breaking his leg at Sachsenring).
Nicky Hayden finished in fifth, Spies in sixth, Edwards in seventh and Roger Hayden in 11th. Although there hasn’t been an American on the podium at Laguna since Hayden won there in 2006 en route to his championship-winning season, the four riders still had positive results.
Nicky Hayden piloted his Ducati GP10 from seventh on the grid to fifth by the checkered flag. He battled with Spies for a bit, but a small mistake by Spies gave Hayden fifth again.
The No. 69 rider of Kentucky began chasing down Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi and Repsol Rider Andrea Dovizioso, but would finish behind them by 1.2 seconds.
Nicky Hayden says: “We had a little problem with the bike when I did my practice start this morning and it happened again in the race but we put up a fight as best we could. The last five laps I was over my head, doing my fastest laps of the weekend almost because I thought there was a chance we might be able to get on the box if the guys in front made a mistake. I dug as deep as I could but it wasn’t enough today.”
“My first two years here at Laguna Seca were much more fun, that’s for sure, but hopefully we can be back here fighting for the win next year – that’s the goal. I want to say thanks to all my guys for their hard work this weekend and to all the fans here at Laguna, their support is incredible – I’m just sorry I couldn’t be on the podium for them.”
Crossing the start/finish line next at the technical 2.243-mile circuit in Monterey was the rookie Spies. He started from fifth on the grid, having a monstorous start and charging up to second behind the then-leader Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).
But as the lap pace increased, Spies lost a few places, falling back to seventh. But by lap 21, Spies passed Hayden for fifth. The 26-year-old Texan then set his eyes on nine-time world champion Rossi, but a mistake while braking in the final turn on lap 6 pushed him back sixth, the position he’d finish the race.
Ben Spies says: “I got a really good start and was third but then for the next couple of laps I just couldn’t get my speed up fast enough. The group in front pulled a bit of a gap on me but once I found my rhythm I caught Nicky and Valentino pretty quickly. I passed Nicky and got right on the back of Valentino and it was a good fight with him. I was actually going to attack him on the next lap when I had a problem entering the final corner on lap 25.”
“I ran wide and lost out and although it wasn’t the podium I wanted in front of my home crowd, I’m happy because I had the speed to come through the field and I had the speed to be on the podium. I couldn’t quite finish the job and that was down to me. But I’d rather leave here knowing I could have been on the podium rather than leave here in eighth place and not on the pace. I can’t ask for a lot more because I’m in the top six again, leading non-factory rider in the race again and putting up a strong fight, so I’m not too upset.”
Edwards arrived behind Spies in seventh on his Yamaha M1, the best result of the season. The 36-year-old Texan started on the grid in eight, falling back a few spots at the start. But he soon became involved in an intense battle with San Carlo Gresini Honda riders Marco Melandri, and Marco Simoncelli, and eventually got them on lap 10 and lap 15, respectively.
Colin Edwards says: “I’m really happy with the way I rode all weekend and there was nothing more I could have done. Fighting for seventh is not really where I wa nt to be in my home race, but compared to where I have been recently it is a big improvement and thanks to all my guys at the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew for all their effort. I had a good early battle with Melandri and Simoncelli and that was fun and I made a couple of good moves on them because I was quite a bit faster.”
“Once I got by Simoncelli I put my head down to see if I could break them and that’s what I did. But I couldn’t even see the group in front of me and I just slowed my pace up a little bit because it made no sense to crash out of my home race when I was never going to catch them up. I was pretty much stuck in seventh all weekend and I never really had the pace of the leading group. But I’m closer to where I know I should be and the upgrades from Yamaha were a help and I can look forward to a good break confident of a strong second half of the season.”
The last American to compete at Laguna was World Superbike rider Roger Lee Hayden, who qualified last in 17th on the LCR Honda RC212V, but finished 11th.
Roger, 27, learned quick during his appearance at Laguna, his lap times improving by 1.668 seconds on raceday over his Saturday qualifying times. Roger has also previously competed in MotoGP as a wildcard at Laguna. In 2007, Roger finished 7th at Laguna while competing as a wildcard entry aboard a Kawasaki.
Roger Lee Hayden says: “This was a very good race for me! After the start I got boxed in at the first corner and after that it took me a few laps to find my pace. The rest of the guys had taken a few seconds on me but I started to pull them back in and I did my fastest lap of the whole week end in doing so. I charged hard and caught De Angelis with 2 laps to go I passed him and took 11th place.”
“At the start of the week I really did not think I could have taken 11th place. I really really want to thank LCR Team for this fantastic opportunity. Everybody in the Team has bent over backwards to help me in every way. The guys worked really hard on the bike and made it very comfortable for me to ride. They put absolutely no pressure on me this week end for a result but this is the American GP and all my friends, family and fans are here so I wanted to give them all a good result. I would love a chance to ride for this Team again as they are a fantastic bunch of guys and the machine they gave me was perfect.”