2012 Laguna Seca MotoGP | Preview

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2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

During the final week of June, the 2012 MotoGP Championship began three consecutive weeks of races in Europe.

And following only a week off, the series now heads to America this weekend for the first of two stateside races – the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This will be Laguna Seca’s 14th appearance on the MotoGP schedule, the 2.243-mile circuit the shortest on the 2012 18-race schedule. The 11-turn track also features the famed “Corkscrew,” which challenges riders with a downhill twist, a place where legendary passes are made.

Heading into round 10, which begins the second half of the 2012 MotoGP Championship, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo leads the championship after winning five of the first nine rounds. Lorenzo, who finished second at Laguna Seca last season behind race-winner Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda), has a 19-point lead over Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “With the exception of the disaster at Assen we are having a very strong season so far, always finishing in either first or second place.

“Hopefully we can continue to do this here to extend the lead a little more. I have always had great races here in Laguna in MotoGP and always finish on the podium. I love the circuit, the corkscrew corner is amazing and the American fans always make an incredible atmosphere for us.”

As for Lorenzo’s teammate, the Texan Ben Spies will be looking to get back in a groove at his home race. His best finishes this year were a pair of fourths at Assen and Sachsenring. Spies has a strong record at Laguna as a three-time AMA race winner there. He scored sixth on his first MotoGP outing and bettered it again last year, finishing just off the podium in fourth.

The rider who took the final podium position last season at Laguna, Pedrosa, has finished on the podium at every round except at Le Mans (fourth), including his win at Sachsenring. Pedrosa has been strong all season, showing his determination for a first title in the MotoGP Championship.

As for his teammate, the reigning MotoGP Champion Stoner, the Australian had his worst finishes in the last two races – a last-lap DNF at Sachsenring and eighth at Assen. Stoner has been struggling with the setup of his RC213V, though he won three races in the first six rounds.

But while testing last week at Mugello, Stoner tested a stronger engine, which the two-time World Champion will help this week at Laguna Seca.

The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team will be looking for top results at Laguna, the satellite team performing ahead of many factory riders throughout the season. The top rider on the team so far has been Andrea Dovizioso, who took his third consecutive podium at his home race in Mugello two weeks ago.

As for his teammate, Cal Crutchlow has been struggling a bit. At the Mugello test, Crutchlow said he has been riding with a full tank during the early race-pace, and hopes to get a better start at the Laguna track, to aid him mount a serious podium challenge.

The Ducati Team of the Kentuckian Nicky Hayden and the Italian Valentino Rossi will be utilizing a new engine to combat the GP12’s handling issues. Both riders have one at Laguna, and will be looking to garner some points there this weekend.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl arrives fresh off his best ever MotoGP finish in fourth, yet will be contesting the Californian circuit for the first time. The rookie, who has already scored more points this year than any German GP rider in a single season, has however done a private test on the track with a road bike to familiarize himself with it, MotoGP says.

San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista will aim to put his Mugello weekend behind him as he looks to re-find some of the form he had shown earlier in the season, and not crash out of the race as he did last year. Yamaha’s Ben Spies, whose season has been plagued with bad luck, will no doubt see this as a springboard for his championship campaign. He came fourth at the track last year, and will once again look to soak up the home support for a good result, MotoGP says.

Unfortunately, Pramac Racing Team rider Héctor Barberá will miss out on this first American round, due to his recent training incident where he fractured the left fibula and tibia. Barberá underwent successful surgery at the Instituto Universitario USP Dexeus last Sunday and the unlucky Spaniard has began the rehabilitation and should be able to run a race in 4 or 6 weeks, MotoGP says.

He will be replaced by Spanish rider Toni Elías, who already rode for the Pramac Racing Team in 2008, achieving two amazing podiums in Brno and in Misano. The 29-year-old rider made his international racing debut in the 125cc World Championship in 2000, finishing 3rd in 2001 and taking his first win in the Dutch TT at the prestigious Assen circuit. In the following years, Elías was able to clinch to the inaugural Moto2 World Championship at the Malaysian Grand Prix with three rounds to spare. This year, Toni was riding with the Aspar Racing Team aboard on Suter machine in Moto2 class but both sides have announced that they were parting ways. Therefore Elías, until few days ago, was a rider without a bike to run with. Now he has the opportunity to show his potential at the spectacular Laguna Seca, MotoGP says.

Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham is expected to race once again, after a four-race absence due to his hand injuries.

The CRT field will relish the opportunity to race at the short Laguna Seca circuit, as it should close the gap somewhat to their factory counterparts. Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró on their Power Electronics Aspar ART machines will undoubtedly remain towards the top of the CRT pile, and will as usual face a stiff challenge from Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro, MotoGP says.

NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will line up with his Suter-BMW machine despite testing an FTR-Honda and BQR-FTR bike in Mugello, and will hope to put in a good showing in front of his home fans. Also racing alongside him will be Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez and Iván Silva. US-based bike racing team Attack Performance Racing will be entering as a wildcard with rider Steve Rapp on board an in-house built, Kawasaki powered machine, MotoGP says.

Laguna Seca MotoGP on TV

SPEED TV will broadcast the Red Bull U.S. Grand qualifying at 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Aug. 28. The race will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29.

2012 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (After nine of 18 rounds):

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1. Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 185
2. Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 166
3. Casey STONER Honda AUS 148
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Yamaha ITA 108
5. Cal CRUTCHLOW Yamaha GBR 95
6. Valentino ROSSI Ducati ITA 82
7. Stefan BRADL Honda GER 75
8. Nicky HAYDEN Ducati USA 74
9. Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda SPA 73
10. Ben SPIES Yamaha USA 66
11. Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 60
12. Randy DE PUNIET ART FRA 28
13. Aleix ESPARGARO ART SPA 26
14. Michele PIRRO FTR ITA 16
15. Mattia PASINI ART ITA 13
16. James ELLISON ART GBR 12
17. Danilo PETRUCCI Ioda ITA 9
18. Colin EDWARDS Suter USA 8
19. Yonny HERNANDEZ BQR COL 6
20. Ivan SILVA BQR SPA 5
21. Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 4