2006 MotoGP Championship - Round Eleven - Laguna Seca, USA - July 21/22/23 - Coverage by MCNEWS.COM.AU
Dorna Day 3 Report
|Amidst record temperatures in
California, Round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship took place
today at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with the sell-out 51,378
crowd treated to a home victory at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Nicky Hayden took his second win of the season, at the scene of his maiden MotoGP triumph, and saw his championship lead extended to 34 points with the late retirement of Valentino Rossi with an engine problem.
Hayden became the first rider to win this race not starting from the front row and boosted his chances of a first MotoGP title. Reacting sharply when the red light went out, the Kentucky Kid was third by the end of the first two turns and then spent the first half of the race on the trail of poleman Chris Vermeulen, finally passing him on lap 17. After that, the American was untroubled by the chasing pack and crossed the line with a 3.186 second advantage over team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
The Spanish rookie, racing on U.S. soil for the first time in his career, looked to keep up the pace on his fellow Repsol Honda rider after fighting through a series of rivals. A high pressure battle with Casey Stoner saw the Australian slide off on lap 15, ending his race. Pedrosa then gradually moved up through the podium places and settled in second with a comfortable advantage.
Marco Melandri, who had started slowly, was in contention for the podium late on in the race, and was one of a number of riders to take advantage of Valentino Rossiís retirement on the final laps. The Fortuna Honda rider overtook Vermeulen to take third in both the race and the World Championship.
Kenny Roberts Jr. was the second highest finishing home rider, taking the holeshot from the front row and keeping up the pace even when passed by a handful of riders. Following Melandri, Roberts was also able to pass Vermeulen in the closing stages after he and his machine began to suffer in the heat.
Rizla Suzukiís young Australian was however the dayís standout performer, defying many peopleís expectations and looking comfortable in the lead before finally being hunted down by Hayden. It was only towards the conclusion of the race that the 24 year-old rookie bowed out of the podium places.
His team-mate John Hopkins completed the top six, ahead of Carlos Checa, Loris Capirossi, front row starter Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau.
Alongside Haydenís victory, the day's main talking point was the enforced retirement of Valentino Rossi. The reigning World Champion looked to be closing in on the rostrum after a flying series of laps, and a repeat of his previous comebacks this season looked to be on the cards. However, on lap 29, after seeing smoke spew from the back of his M1, the Italian star was obliged to return to the pits and leave Laguna Seca without points. He now lies in fourth in the title chase, 51 points behind Hayden.
1st: Nicky Hayden (Honda):
"I felt a lot of pressure, I didnít want to let the home team down but also wasnít going to let pride get in the way and make a risky mistake. It was really physical out there but thatís why you get up with the sun every morning and train. In some races that maybe hasnít been as important as in this one."
2nd: Dani Pedrosa (Honda):
3rd: Marco Melandri (Honda):