Laguna Seca MotoGP: The Americans
The three normal Americans on the 2011 MotoGP grid – Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing), Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) – were joined by AMA Superbike rider Ben Bostrom this past weekend at Laguna Seca.
Bostrom rode as a wildcard entry for LCR Honda, and at 37-years old, it was the Redding, Calif., native’s debut on a MotoGP prototype.
All together, three of the Americans finished in the top eight. Spies was the highest-placed rider Sunday at Laguna Seca.
The Texan didn’t have the best start, falling from fourth to seventh. Spies then battled with Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team), and passed him on lap three. Spies then went to work on Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, passing him with three laps to go. Spies would eventually finish fourth, the same position he qualified, fourth.
Hayden, who started in ninth, had a battled with teammate Rossi for sixth throughout the 32-lap race, but couldn’t get a pass on the Italian. The Kentuckian would eventually take seventh.
Right behind Hayden was Edwards, who fought hard for his eighth-place finish at Laguna Seca. Edwards took the position after passing Ducati’s Hector Barbera on the exit of the famous corkscrew. Edwards qualified 11th at Laguna.
As for Bostrom, he qualified 18th out of 18, four seconds behind the pole-man (Jorge Lorenzo). The first time on a MotoGP machine, Bostrom dropped a second behind the pack after the first lap.
After running wide and hitting the gravel twice, Bostrom decided to pit, not wanting to crash the expensive RCV212V MotoGP machine.
MotoGP Laguna Seca American Quotes
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-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 spoilt 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.”
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.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-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 poi nt 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.”
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!”