MotoGP Heads to Laguna Seca with Marquez as New Points Leader

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez

2013 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Preview

The 2013 MotoGP Championship hits the half-way point following this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 11-turn, 2.238-mile Californian circuit known for its famed Corkscrew.

Round nine of 18 this weekend arrives only a week after the Grand Prix of Germany at Sachsenring, a race that was filled with drama. During practice for Sachsenring MotoGP, two of the series’ top riders – Repsol Honda Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo – were sidelined due to massive high sides.

During his crash at Sachsering, Lorenzo, the reigning MotoGP Champion, further complicated the left shoulder he broke at Assen three weeks ago.  The Spaniard was forced to travel home to Barcelona for further surgery, and missed Sachsenring. Unfortunately, the two-time MotoGP Champion reported via Twitter that he will miss this weekend’s Grand Prix.

The words came from Lorenzo, but it wasn’t necessarily official. And his team reports that Lorenzo will travel to the U.S. Will he ride as he did in Assen? This may be the case if he feels he needs to redeem some points before other riders keep gaining on him.

As for Pedrosa, he also suffered a nasty crash at practice for Sachsenring, sustaining a minor fracture to the left shoulder that gave him issues throughout 2011 MotoGP. Pedrosa also missed Sachsenring, and his Repsol Honda team has yet to confirm if he will ride this weekend at the tight and technical Laguna Seca.

With these two sidelined at Sachsenring, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez went on to take his second win of 2013 MotoGP. And as the series heads to the United States – where Marquez earned his first-ever premier-class finish at Circuit of the Americas earlier this season – the rookie now holds the lead by two points ahead of his teammate Pedrosa. A further 11 points back in third is Lorenzo. Both Lorenzo and Pedrosa finished on the podium at Laguna Seca last season behind the man who dominated the race – the now-retired Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).

Marquez will have some challenges at Laguna Seca, though, considering he has never rode a MotoGP bike there. During his 125cc and Moto2 days, he never rode at Laguna Seca because support classes never competed there. He does have some road-bike experience at the track, although minimal.

The next closest rider to Marquez is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who took his fourth podium result of 2013 MotoGP at Sachsenring with second. As the Brit chases his first-ever premier-class win, he trails Marquez by 31 points.

Besides four podiums, Crutchlow also has some extra boasting credit considering his satellite beat the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 piloted by Valentino Rossi at Sachsenring. The nine-time World Champion finished third, earning his third podium of 2013 MotoGP, which includes his win at Assen – the first victory since taking the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2010. Rossi, who suffered a DNF at Laguna last year, trails Crutchlow by six points.

The satellite Honda riders will want to carry the momentum from Sachsenring into the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl matched his best finish of fourth at his home race in Germany, and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista finished fifth.

Bad luck continues to follow the Ducati Team riders of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso as they struggle with the GP13 prototype’s chassis. Both riders had bad results in Germany, but Hayden will be looking for some enthusiasm from his home crowd to get the Ducati back in podium contention.

Hayden’s fellow countryman Ben Spies will miss Laguna Seca MotoGP due to ongoing shoulder issues. Substituting for the injured Spies on the Pramac Ducati will be NGM Mobile Forward Racing Moto2’s Alex de Angelis, who competed with the premier class before.

Spies’ satellite teammate Andrea Iannone was indued at Sachsenring, and is hoping to be declared fit to race in California.

As for the CRT class, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro has proven to be a threat to the prototypes. Espargaro, who is the top CRT finisher in all eight MotoGP rounds so far, ran with the lead group for a bit at Sachsenring, though eventually fell back to finish eighth ahead of Hayden.

Rounding out the grid will be his teammate Randy de Puniet, NGM Mobile Forward Racing duo Claudio Corti and Colin Edwards, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, PBM teammates Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Lukas Pesek, as well as Gresini’s Bryan Staring. One wildcard will take part in the shape of Attack Performance Racing’s Blake Young, who previously did well in Austin on his Kawasaki-powered in-house APR machine, MotoGP reports.

Also sharing the track with MotoGP will be AMA Pro Road Racing. Three classes (AMA SuperBike, AMA Daytona SportBike, AMA SuperSport) will hold a single race at Laguna.

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca closes first half of season. Following Laguna, the riders will break for a month ahead of the third and final stateside race – the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix (Aug. 18-21).

2013 Laguna Seca MotoGP on TV

SPEED TV will provide live coverage of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca from 4:30 through 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, July 21. SPEED TV will also cover qualifying live Saturday, July 20, at 5 p.m. EDT.

2013 MotoGP Point Standings (after eight of 18 rounds):

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 138
2 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 136
3 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 127
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW Yamaha GBR 107
5 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 101
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 74
7 Stefan BRADL Honda GER 64
8 Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda SPA 58
9 Nicky HAYDEN Ducati USA 57
11 Bradley SMITH Yamaha GBR 51
12 Michele PIRRO Ducati ITA 36
13 Andrea IANNONE Ducati ITA 24
15 Hector BARBERA FTR SPA 18
16 Danilo PETRUCCI Ioda-Suter ITA 15
17 Colin EDWARDS FTR Kawasaki USA 13
18 Ben SPIES Ducati USA 9
20 Claudio CORTI FTR Kawasaki ITA 5
21 Michael LAVERTY PBM GBR 3
23 Bryan STARING FTR Honda AUS 2
24 Hiroshi AOYAMA FTR JPN 1
25 Javier DEL AMOR FTR SPA 1