Laguna Seca MotoGP | Rider Talk
2012 U.S Red Bull Grand Prix Quote Wrap
The second half of the 2012 MotoGP Championship began this past weekend with the first of two races on American shores – the U.S. Red Bull Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
And although Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner struggled at the previous two rounds, the Australian suffering a DNF at Sachsenring and eighth at Mugello, he returned to the top at Laguna Seca.
Following a second-place start at the shortest circuit on the 2012 MotoGP schedule, the 11-turn circuit in Monterey, Calif., a mere 2.243 miles, Stoner would fall back to third by the first turn behind teammate Dani Pedrosa and pole man Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
Stoner wasted not time, though, and passed Pedrosa on the second lap. He began hunting down Lorenzo, eventually passing the Spaniard on lap 11 of 32. The reigning MotoGP Champion would finish 3.429 seconds ahead of Lorenzo, with Pedrosa taking the final podium position.
With his second-place finish, Lorenzo remains the points leader after 10 of 18 rounds, the 2010 MotoGP Champion 23 points ahead of Pedrosa. Stoner is now in third, 32 points behind Lorenzo. For a report, including full results, click here.
Following are what the riders were saying following Laguna Seca MotoGP:
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “It’s been a difficult weekend for us in general especially trying to make the hard tire work. So for the race I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tire, keep a little more traction and not spin so much. At the beginning of the race I tried to move to the front but Dani and Jorge were riding very good lines and it was impossible to get past. I decided to slow the lap times a little and try to save the tires until the end and then we could start to come back.
“I was confident for the entire race that I had enough pace for the win, we just needed to make sure the tire would last until the end. When we got to the front we put in some good laps and pulled some small advantage and just continued from there. I’m very, very happy and a big thanks to all the team.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “I tried my best in this race and third place was the maximum I could get this time. At the beginning, I was quite confident and calm when Casey passed me because I knew he was on the soft rear tire and this was the most risky choice for the race, but finally it worked out perfectly for him. I knew I also had a good pace, but when I caught Casey again and was ready to overtake him I was on the throttle too fast and I had too much momentum there, I almost found myself on the floor. I lost ground with the leaders, but when I started braking harder trying to close the gap again I lost the front many times and I was so close to not finish this race.
“Anyway, I’m satisfied because I kept pushing until the end, giving one hundred per cent although today it wasn’t enough. A small mistake it’s just enough to not finish in front. Anyway, we were riding the new bike for the first time here and we took another podium. We know what we can improve to come back stronger in Indianapolis.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I tried my best the beginning to open a gap and I managed it but then in the corkscrew I almost crashed. For Casey maybe that was a motivation and he caught me in one lap. After that I couldn’t keep the pace I had in the beginning, maybe the soft tire was the best option for this race. Without a doubt Casey was riding in an excellent form today and it wasn’t possible to beat him.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We had a technical failure in the swingarm. I was feeling really good, I didn’t have the grip that I had in the earlier sessions with the harder tire but in the last ten laps I was starting to pull away and I had a little left up my sleeve. We started to stretch out a lead over Dovi then all of a sudden at the bottom of the corkscrew the bike went out from underneath me. I had no control, it didn’t slide or anything just completely went. At first I thought I’d hit a bump but there isn’t one there. It’s nobody’s fault but it’s more bad luck.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “It would have been nice to have kept the podium sequence going for a fourth race in a row but we have to be very satisfied with today’s result because it was the best we could achieve when you consider the pace the top three have shown all weekend.
“Ben was doing a fantastic race and credit to him because he wasn’t in the best physical condition. It is a big pity that he crashed because at the end of the race I am sure we could have had a really nice battle. It wasn’t easy to stay with him and I was pushing really hard but when Ellison crashed there was a lot of sand on the track and I hit it and lost some time. It is a positive result and this busy period in the Championship has been very successful but we have to say the gap to the top three was very big. We head to the summer break confident for the rest of the season and ready to return in Indianapolis refreshed and looking forward to improving our performance.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I’m pretty happy with another solid finish inside the top five and that is a big improvement on last year where I struggled a lot at this track. All weekend I was inside the top six so to finish fifth and have another strong battle with Andrea is good for the Championship. Credit to Andrea again because he was faultless and it didn’t seem to matter how much pressure I put on him, he remained ice cool and didn’t put a foot wrong to give me a chance of passing.
“Any pass would have been a desperate lunge and I certainly wasn’t going to risk taking us both out in such an important race for Yamaha and Monster. It was a good battle with Ben for the first 20 laps and I feel sorry for him because it was building up to be a good fight between the three of us at the end. It was bad luck for Ben and I did everything I could without being able to take fourth from Andrea. It has been a great first half to the season for me. I’ve finished all 10 races and that was the consistency I was looking for. I’m now staying in America for a well earned break before coming back strong and confident for Indianapolis.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “The day got off to a rough start, as I crashed in the warm-up session when I didn’t have enough heat in the brakes. For the race, my bike was the best it’s been this weekend, and I got a good start, but then Bautista and I touched. I thought maybe I knocked my brake lever, so I was too careful in turns one and two.
“Then I got held up behind Bautista and lost a gap to that second group, which I spent most of the race trying to bridge. I got to Bradl, but the other guys were already gone, although I didn’t have the pace to run with them anyway. I was fighting the bike and running wide in the turns, but I pushed until the end. It’s frustrating to struggle so much all weekend at Laguna, and it’s not the way I wanted to go into the two-week break, but I think we can put up a better fight at Indy.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “I wasn’t fighting for the podium, but a crash like that at the end of the race is still disappointing because I had done the whole race like the first lap and my rhythm wasn’t fast at that moment. Still, I lost the front when I was approaching the Corkscrew, when the bike was vertical, right when I touched the brake, a bit like happened at Silverstone. We have a real problem: again today, we had a hard time getting the front tire to work, and it was like new after thirty laps. Fortunately I’m fine, although it was a pretty hard crash. It wasn’t a great weekend. Now we have a short break, two important weeks, and then we’ll see how it goes at Indy.”
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “Actually it was a positive debut for us in Laguna. I am quite happy about this 7th final place. In general it was a pretty difficult weekend for us because we mainly started to work on the bike Saturday afternoon as on Friday I had to learn the track.
“Basically in the beginning of the race I was quite comfortable on the bike because we had full fuel on board but after ten laps I started to lose confidence compared to Dovi and Crutchlow due to the front end issues that we already had yesterday. From that moment it was too dangerous for me entering the corners with the same speed. Then I tried to keep Nicky behind him but I could see he was faster than me so I preferred to maintain my position scoring further points in the classification. I think we have done our best and we keep this experience for next season.”
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V MotoGP) “I’m not sure why but today the bike felt really unstable on the front. Maybe we made the wrong decision by going with the soft tyre. I tried to push it at the start but I couldn’t brake hard and I was really struggling in corner entry. It’s strange because we had good race pace with this tyre yesterday but today it didn’t work. It hasn’t been a good weekend for us. Despite the positive signs yesterday it proved to be a difficult race today.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT) “They say things come in threes and unfortunately that is the case for me today with my third DNF in a row – this time after contact with De Puniet in the first corner. It is unfortunate but I don’t want to be negative about it and I am sure that better times are ahead for me and the guys in the team.”
Tony Elias (Pramac Racing Ducati GP12 MotoGP) says: “I am very sorry for how this weekend ended. Up until my crash I was gaining positions. I have to be happy with the progress we made in only three days with the Ducati. Every time I sat on the bike I managed to increase my confidence with the bike and I was able to improve my lap times, even if I was still learning the bikes reaction on this untraditional track.
“Today I didnt made a brilliant start, but I felt good. Unfortunately Pirro crashed in front of me, I briefly rode into the gravel but I was able to regain the confidence with my Ducati. I was planning to catch the riders ahead, but I braked too late and I lost the front finding myself off track. To conclude this weekend with a crash leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I hope to have the opportunity in the near future to collaborate again and continue to improve. I would like to thank the Pramac Racing Team for allowing me to be part of the team at this Laguna GP, thanks for a wonderful experience.”
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Racing Ducati GP12 MotoGP) says: “This time the start went well but I got stuck behind Hernandez from the very beginning. I knew I had what it takes to overtake him as soon as possible, but I couldn’t get in front of him. Ironically, he was able to get away on straights, even though he was riding the CRT bike.
“After I did get in front of him I managed to gain some distance. I was trying to eliminate Espargaró’s advantage, but sadly I did not overtake him. A few laps before the end of the race, following Valentino Rossi’s fall, some pebbles got onto the track. I was caught off guard a lot at first and Espargaró took advantage of it. There was no point in risking and trying to overtake him at all costs. The most important thing now is to collect points for good results. The hand hurts much more after the weekend, but the next race is in three weeks, which looks like enough for the full recovery. It does not hold me back any longer and I can practice.”
Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar CRT) says: “I am really happy with the result, although I didn’t actually enjoy the race as much as some others. I have struggled for front feel all weekend and not been able to get the bike turning as well as at other tracks. We improved it a little bit for today and after a good start I was able to push hard for the first three laps behind Valentino, which allowed me to open a gap and hold it to the end. I didn’t know that Randy had run off but I did think it was strange that he wasn’t running with me in the race because our pace was so similar.
“I would prefer to beat him fair and square but the important thing is to finish as the top CRT. This season has been fantastic so far, the team are giving me a lot of support and putting everything into every race so I want to thank them all for the results we have achieved together up to now.”
Randy De Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar CRT) says: “I am really annoyed to have been pushed off track in turn one because it cost me my chance to finish as the top CRT here in America. I almost crashed but luckily I was able to stay on and finish the race. My pace after that was fast and consistent so I am happy with that. I had to stay focused and pass a few riders and managed to finish eleventh so we have to be pleased.
“I would have liked to have caught Karel and Aleix and I gave everything I had but the time we lost at the start was too much to make up. At the end of the day we could have come away from here with nothing but we have picked up some important points for the championship. Once again it was a great team effort and we just need to continue in the same way at the next race.”
Photos by Ara Ashjian