The first of two stateside rounds in the 2011 MotoGP wrapped up this weekend at Laguna Seca with Casey Stoner taking his fifth win of the season.
The Repsol Honda rider was edged out in qualifying by the reigning MotoGP Champions Jorge Lorenzo, and for the first 26 laps of Sunday’s race, it looked as if the Spaniard would be the winner.
But once Stoner passed Lorenzo with six to go, the Australian gradually opened a gap, eventually finishing 5.634 seconds ahead of Lorenzo. Taking the final podium spot was Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa.
As for Valentino Rossi, he piloted his Ducati Team GP11.1 to a sixth-place finish. The next stateside round for the 2011 MotoGP Championship will be at Indy in August.
Here’s what the riders were saying after Laguna Seca MotoGP:
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “All weekend we’ve been struggling a little so we weren’t too confident that we could run with Jorge and Dani [Pedrosa] in the race. However, this morning in warm up we found something I was a little happier with. Before the race I felt relaxed, confident and generally calm, we started a little slower to get the tires warm gently but also with a full tank of fuel, the bike didn’t feel that great.
“So I was patient and took my time, staying with Jorge and Dani to control the gap and make sure they didn’t get too far away. I felt I had more speed but decided to wait and watch. I saw Dani struggling a bit and he started to drop back from Jorge so I had to attack at this point.
“Once I caught up to Jorge, I watched to see if he made a mistake and kept the pressure on him, then chose my moment to make the move and was able to slowly open up a gap and bring the race home. It’s really fantastic to come from such a difficult weekend and get a great win and I’m very thankful to all my team.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m very happy with another podium, the second after my come back from injury. I could have predicted this result before coming to Laguna because I knew it would be physically very tough for me and it has been great to keep up with the pace of Casey [Stoner] and Jorge in these past two races.
“Today, by the middle of the race, I was very tired, almost finished, I couldn’t get my left arm strong enough and here at this track you don’t rest for a moment, so I had to drop. It’s been quite difficult to set up the bike this weekend, I had a lack of grip generally, but the team worked very well.
“Now we have some holidays and it will be good for me to have some days off to rest and relax my muscles and be back training to arrive fully fit to Brno.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “We knew that it was going to be a tough race because this track is short, with very strong braking and it’s also very demanding. I made a good start and I was able to move into fourth position. In the first laps I pushed hard to stay with Casey [Stoner], Dani [Pedrosa] and Lorenzo. I was loosing a lot in some corners, such as T3 and T11 and to recover I was pushing in the other areas.
“I used up a lot of energy and I couldn’t be consistent for the 32 laps. I’m disappointed because today we had the speed to fight for a good result, in fact I lapped two tenths behind the fastest lap, but I couldn’t be consistent. I lost the battle with Spies and this is the first time I’ve lost a battle this year.
“The good point is that we were able to be fast. Now we have to focus and continue working, we are third in the Championship and we want to keep on fighting. We will take advantage of the three week break to recharge the batteries and return in Brno more determined. My congratulations go to Casey and Dani.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “We worked well this weekend. We started from a better position than we have in recent races, and I got a good launch on the start and tried to stay with the leaders. I did a lap in the mid-’22s, but then I closed the front twice in a row on the bumps in Turn 5 and nearly crashed.
“I still had a tough race after that, because Nicky stayed glued to me and didn’t give me a chance to breathe. We obviously don’t want to be fighting for sixth place, but we’re having some problems at the moment and we have to try and do our best with what we have. We’re losing too much on corner entry, where I’m very slow because I don’t have enough feeling, but Ducati is working and we must stay focused and positive, making progress step by step. In the short term, we have to make up those missing tenths in order to stay with the group with Spies, Sic and Dovizioso. Then we’ll think about the others.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “I’ve won this race before, so I’m not going to jump up and down celebrating seventh place. We knew it was going to be tough, and crashing in qualifying didn’t help. I got a decent start, but I didn’t get to go with that second group like I had hoped.
“It was kind of like the Sachsenring: a good battle with Valentino, but thirty seconds behind the front. Vale was no faster than me, but he’s a racer: he doesn’t make mistakes and give you anything. A couple of times I thought I might be able to go up the inside, but I’m not just going to close my eyes and knock us both down trying for sixth place.
“People who think he’s not trying are crazy. I saw his right foot come off the peg a couple of times when he almost went down. We’ll take two weeks off, regroup and go to Brno. Now is no time to be negative. I believe in my team and Ducati, and I really think we’re still going to have a good season.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “Well first of all I’m lucky to be in the second position, after the crash yesterday I thought it wasn’t possible to race for a little while. After qualifying I hoped I might be able to fight till the end for victory but sometimes expectations are not reality. Casey was faster today, I couldn’t match his pace at the end. My physical condition is not so perfect which makes us a bit slow as well. Second is ok, we are only 20 points behind Casey and we’ll try again next time.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “I got a really good start but going uphill to the steep part of the track basically we didn’t have enough power. I got stuck behind Valentino, I tried to get around as quick as I could but he’s really good on the brakes so it was pretty tough but I did the best I could.
“Once we got around him it was quite a big gap to Dovizioso but I just kept my head down and kept going. I’m happy we were able to track him down and get fourth. It was a really good race for us it just got spoiled in the first five hundred feet. I would have liked to have been on the podium as I think we had a package to fight with Dani, I guess that’s racing and I gave it 100% as always.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “I am really disappointed. I don’t know whether I would have caught Pedrosa if I’d stayed in the race, it’s impossible to say, but I could have definitely had a battle with Dovizioso and Spies so it’s a real shame. We had worked so well and managed to improve from session to session but I realized early in the race that the front was giving me more trouble than it had in practice. It closed in turn seven on the first lap, which is a strange place for it to go, and then again two laps later in turn eight. All we can do right now is dust ourselves down and head to Brno looking to do our best again.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “Starting from 14th place is never easy so I had to make a few passes before I could get into my true rhythm. I am partly satisfied to have finished tenth but it was a tough race because I am still not physically fit. My intention was to make it to the end and I am happy I did that because this was my first race here at Laguna. Now we have a short break and I hope I can come back stronger in the next race at Brno, ready to fight for a good result.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “I am very, very disappointed after today and really frustrated because although we did a really good job all weekend, we didn’t get the result we deserved and I crashed. We tried many different things here this weekend and used a completely different setting to last year and we managed to get the same good feeling as we had in Germany.
“This is the best I have felt on a bike in my MotoGP career so I know things are moving in the right direction. I think we made a mistake on Friday and Saturday, because we didn’t try the soft front tire in the afternoons.
“I think the hard tire here wasn’t too bad, but it didn’t give me the feeling I wanted in the corners – the grip wasn’t too bad, but it just didn’t transmit enough information. For the race I started with a hard front and I now think it was a mistake not to use a soft one. I got a good start, but some riders closed up in front of me and I couldn’t get past, but I did make up one place on the first lap.
“I overtook some other guys and got behind the Ducati’s, but I was a bit far away and had to catch them up. My rhythm was really good and I had a lot of confidence in the bike, but I lost the front without any reason and crashed. I had entered that corner at the same speed and in the same place in previous laps so I don’t know what happened. I am happy with the work we did this weekend and pleased with my level on the bike. Before the crash I was fighting for sixth or seventh and I know we can be there now and we have to keep working at this level and higher in the next races We now have some time to relax and charge our batteries, so we can be full gas for Brno.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “Honestly I’m really disappointed because I came here for my home race and I expected bigger and better things. I struggled all weekend with the set-up and we made a wrong turn somewhere in the last couple of races that have knocked us out of stride a little bit.
“This morning we just put in the same setting I ran in last year’s race and that wasn’t great, but at least I felt more comfortable with it than what I’d been running all weekend. It wasn’t the best setting but at least I felt comfortable to a point where I could push for some decent lap times.
“I just lacked front and rear grip. I’ve never ridden so hard in my life but I was a second off the pace and when Cal went down in front of me, there was no way I could go with Bautista. I just had to be smooth because if I pushed I just ended up going slower. I still moved up in the Championship and got some good points, so now I’m just looking forward to a couple of weeks relaxing to get ready for the final part of the season.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “I lost the front at the second corner and it was a similar problem to what we’ve been experiencing in recent races. It was fine this morning in cooler conditions but as soon as the track temperature goes up, I have a few problems. Strangely it was only at that corner. It is a shame because I think we had a good pace.
“Bautista wasn’t getting away from me and he quickly got up to Valentino and Nicky, so I think I could have gone with him and been in that battle. I’m disappointed I didn’t finish the race and it is not good for the Championship but I wasn’t the only one to crash today and it shows all of us are pushing on the limit. We have still learned quite a bit this weekend and the bike certainly felt better than it did in the last few races. Now we go to some tracks that I know and I’m looking forward to it because it has been a tough run and I need to recover the form I was showing in the beginning of the season.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “This race was a gamble for me. In Germany I only ridden for a few laps but the shoulder was really too bad. I made the decision to come here and for me the most important thing was to finish the race. We knew it would be difficult because during the test was very hard to ride. The result is bad, but I’m happy because I achieved the goal to finish the race. Now I will try to get back to full fitness in Brno, one of my favorite tracks, because there I really want to prove that we can fight for better positions.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “I am very sad about what happened yesterday, we really didn’t need this. Until that moment it was a really good weekend for us – in all the practice sessions we were fast and today we could have done a good race. I’m sorry for my teammates who always give their best to make the bike as competitive as possible for me.
“I’m also sorry for our partners who support us at all times, even through these difficult moments. Yesterday I thought it was my mistake but I have check telemetry with my engineer and I did the same thing as all the other times.
“In Sachsenring many riders crashed in their first lap out, I guess this time was my turn, but I hope the situation will improve soon. I wanted to believe until the last moment that I was able to ride, but yesterday night the pain was truly unbearable and I had to call the doctors from the mobile clinic to ease it. Contrary to what we thought yesterday, the pelvis seems to be the biggest problem: my hip is swollen like a football, and I can barely even walk.
“Tomorrow I am going to take further medical examinations in Los Angeles where we can see more clearly if the pelvis also suffered a fracture. We hope that after the summer break we will be able to return to the track without any problems and leave this bad luck behind. We must do whatever it takes now to turn around the second part of our season in the championship.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “In this morning warm up we have changed rear set up of the bike and I felt immediately better. As always I took a good start but on this track you get stuck if you start from the last row so I pushed but in the first corner I went a bit wide. I was 12th when I suddenly lost the front running off into the gravel.
“I could rejoin the race but for the rest of the race I felt like I was lapping on a frozen surface. We have finished the race in 13th position but the situation is still very tough for us”.
Ben Bostrom (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I took a good start and immediately felt very comfortable on the bike. I improved my lap time of one second from the practice so I was very optimistic to see that so early in the race.
“As I was riding so much faster I started to be uncomfortable in the first corner when I had to shift down because my foot hit the ground and after few laps I made a mistake running off the track into the gravel. It took me 30 seconds to rejoin the race but I wanted to continue but the next lap I had the same problem.
“So I have decided to enter the pits even if the bike was fantastic. Honestly I was thinking about my race and didn’t want to crash this bike. Once again I want to thank MJM, Lucio and all the guys here: it was an incredible experience for me!”