MotoGP 2012 – Round Ten – Laguna Seca
At this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in Laguna Seca it was Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner who recorded a hard-fought victory ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, after reaping the benefits of gambling with the softer rear tyre.
It was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo who took the holeshot into the tricky turn one, with Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa and Stoner in tow. Stoner was the only one of the front-runners to have started on the softer option rear tyre, with the two Spaniards opting for the harder spec. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro was an early crasher in the first turn, while Pramac Racing Team’s Toni Elías crashed out a lap later.
On lap two, Stoner was finding his pace and made his way past Pedrosa as he started to chase down Lorenzo at the front. As Lorenzo was keeping the Repsol pair honest, Yamaha’s Ben Spies was heading up a group in fourth including the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Stefan Bradl. With 22 laps reaming Crutchlow was all over the back of the rear wheel of Dovizioso, as the pair continued their season-long tussle. Back at the front, Lorenzo was having to continuously hold off Stoner, who was all over the back of the Spaniard looking for a way past, as Pedrosa seemed content to look on in third. A lap later, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden was finding his stride in eighth, as he made up headway to the front with teammate Valentino Rossi in tow.
As the leading trio were heading into lap 13, Pedrosa had a huge wobble before the final turn, which he was just about able to save. This did however drop him back around a second from Stoner. On the same lap, Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini was forced to retire with a mechanical issue. With 14 laps reaming Lorenzo had a slight moment going into the corkscrew, as Stoner looked to be chipping away at his lead once more. A lap later Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo retired with a technical issue, while Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison crashed out a short while later. 11 laps from the end Stoner had caught up to Lorenzo and put in a move going into turn one, just as he had done last year, to take charge at the front. It was not a good lap for Yamaha, as Spies crashed out of the race awkwardly whilst accelerating out of the corkscrew, due to a technical fault with his swingarm.
Stoner and Lorenzo were in a league at their own at the front, and with nine laps left were already starting to lap some of the back markers. On the same lap Dovizioso had fought his way back past Crutchlow, as the pair continued to race neck and neck. Shortly after Hayden had caught up to the rear wheel of Bradl, as he looked to pass the German in front of his home crowd. And with five laps remaining he had made his way through, and started to pursue Crutchlow.
With three laps left Stoner was not showing any signs of slowing down as he kept Lorenzo at bay with a gap of up to one second, while Pedrosa was a further three seconds behind in third. And there was drama in the penultimate lap as Rossi suffered a big crash heading into the corkscrew, for his first DNF of the season. Fortunately he was unhurt, yet heads into the summer break with further doubts about the Ducati’s competitiveness.
In the end it was Stoner’s soft tyre gamble that paid off as he took the chequered flag by a margin of over three seconds, ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who completed the rostrum. Lorenzo still leads the championship by 23 points over Pedrosa and 32 over Stoner. The Australian quoted after the race that tyre management early in the race was key to him being able to continue his high pace until the end, whilst Lorenzo expressed surprise at its longevity, sighting that the harder option may have been the wrong choice.
Dovizioso was the first non-podium finisher in fourth, followed by Crutchlow, Hayden and Bradl. Eighth spot went to San Carlo’s Álvaro Bautista, finishing ahead of top CRT performer Aleix Espargaró on board his Power Electronics Aspar machine. Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham completed the top ten on his return from injury. Attack Performance wildcard Steve Rapp was unable to compete in the race today, as he failed to reach the 107 per cent lap time marker in all the preceding sessions.
Race Result – Round 10
1 Casey Stoner 43’45.961 AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo +3.429 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
3 Dani Pedrosa +7.633 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Andrea Dovizioso +18.602 ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Cal Crutchlow +18.779 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Nicky Hayden +26.902 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Stefan Bradl +28.393 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Alvaro Bautista +50.246 SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
9 Aleix Espargaro +1’18.993 ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
10 Karel Abraham +1’22.076 CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
11 Randy De Puniet +1 lap FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
12 Yonny Hernandez +1 lap COL BQR-FTR BQR
13 Colin Edwards +1 lap USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
14 Ivan Silva +1 lap SPA BQR-FTR BQR
15 Valentino Rossi DNF ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
16 Ben Spies DNF USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
17 James Ellison DNF GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
18 Danilo Petrucci DNF ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
19 Mattia Pasini DNF ITA ART Speed Master
20 Toni Elías DNF SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
21 Michelle Pirro DNF ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
1 Jorge Lorenzo 205 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2 Dani Pedrosa 182 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Casey Stoner 173 pts AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Andrea Dovizioso 121 pts ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Cal Crutchlow 106 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Nicky Hayden 84 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Stefan Bradl 84 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Valentino Rossi 82 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Alvaro Bautista 81 pts SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
10 Ben Spies 66 pts USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
11 Hector Barbera 60 pts SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
12 Aleix Espargaro 33 pts ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Randy De Puniet 33 pts FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
14 Michelle Pirro 16 pts ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
15 Mattia Pasini 13 pts ITA ART Speed Master
16 James Ellison 12 pts GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
17 Colin Edwards 11 pts USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Yonny Hernandez 10 pts COL BQR-FTR BQR
19 Karel Abraham 10 pts CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
20 Danilo Petrucci 9 pts ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
— HRC Report
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner heads into the summer break on a high after winning his fourth race of the year by making a wise tyre choice on a sunny day at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) third and on the podium for the sixth race in a row, equalling his longest sequence of successive podiums in MotoGP.
The win was Stoner’s second in a row and third overall at the tortuous circuit within sight of the Pacific Ocean east of Monterey, California, making him the winningest rider at the track.
And it also allowed him to take five points out of the championship lead of Lorenzo. Stoner, who will spend his summer break traveling around the U.S. with his family, now has 173 points to 182 for Pedrosa and 205 for Lorenzo.
The summer break arrives with Honda tied for the Constructor’s Championship lead, and Repsol Honda holding an 84 point lead in the Team’s Championship.
The grand prix played out in a fashion very similar to last year’s race. Lorenzo got out to an early lead in front of Pedrosa, with Stoner taking second from his team-mate on the third of 32 laps of the 3.61Km, 11-turn circuit. Stoner was one of the few prototype riders to use the soft, rather than the medium rear tyre, and that would prove the key to victory.
Stoner stalked Lorenzo for more than half the race before setting up his pass. As he had done last year, he made pass in turn 1, more of a kink than a turn, a left taken in sixth gear leaned over. The difference was that this year he went up the inside, last year it was the outside and five laps sooner, on lap 22 rather than lap 27.
Lorenzo tried to stay with Stoner, and did for a number of laps, but in the later stages Stoner pulled away to a definitive victory.
The margin of victory was 3.429s.
Pedrosa was another 4.204s back in third, but on the podium again; he has only been off it once this year at the French GP.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished seventh in his first race at the circuit that allows no rest. Bradl lost the battle for sixth to Nicky Hayden, the American Ducati rider who has more experience at the track than any other rider. That Bradl was able to be competitive in his first race was impressive.
His confidence was stronger early in the race with a full fuel load. Later, when the level went down and the weight came off the front, he developed a front end chatter that caused him to slow.
Bradl heads into the summer break with a gaping lead over Michele Pirro, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider whose day was less successful.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) had a lonely ride to ninth. Bautista had crashed in the morning, and he had crashed earlier in the weekend. On his previous two visits to the track, on a different brand, he had crashed in the race.
It was important for him to finish and go into the summer break with some confidence.
Team-mate Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR Honda) did not make it past the second corner in his first visit to Laguna Seca. The Italian MotoGP rookie was run off the track by another rider in the Andretti Hairpin left turn and crashed. It was his third DNF in a row, none through his own fault.
The series now goes into the summer break, a gap of two weekends before the 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship on August 17-19.
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: Race winner
“It’s been a difficult weekend for us in general, especially trying to make the hard tyre work. So for the race I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tyre, 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 tyres 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 tyre 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: 2nd
“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 tyre 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 percent, 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.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 7th
“Actually it was a positive debut for us in Laguna. I am quite happy about this seventh 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 (Dovizioso) and (Cal) 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 (Hayden) behind me, but I could see he was faster than me. I think we have done our best and we keep this experience for next season.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 9th “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: DNF “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 (Randy) 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.”
— Yamaha Report
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo put in an impressive performance today at Laguna Seca to take second in the Grand Prix of USA. Having started from pole, Lorenzo took the hole shot closely followed by rival Dani Pedrosa into turn one. He held the lead until a small incident in the corkscrew allowed Casey Stoner to close the already small gap, the Australian then passing him on the main straight on lap 21. Lorenzo tucked in behind in second, crossing the line just 3.429 seconds later.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies continued to experience his run of bad luck for his home race. Spies made a strong start from the grid, slotting in behind Casey Stoner in fourth through the first turn. Although unable to stay with the front pack the Texan was looking comfortable holding fourth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso until a dramatic crash in the corkscrew on the 22nd lap caused by a technical failure with his swingarm.
Lorenzo leaves Laguna having increased his Championship lead to 23 over Pedrosa, Spies remains in 10th with 66 points.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position : 2nd Time: +3.429
“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 tyre 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 / Position : DNF Time:
“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 tyre 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.”
Wilco Zeelenberg Team Manager
“Another important result today. Jorge rode a brilliant race again, as we expected the tyre choice was very important. He had a small incident in the corkscrew that allowed Casey to catch up, but anyway his pace continued to be very good. It’s very important for the Championship to stay on the podium so today was a success and we have extended our lead over Dani a little. We’ll take a break now and then be ready for Indinapolis!”
Massimo Meregalli Team Director
“A good and bad day here in Laguna. The good is that we managed to increase the gap to Pedrosa. The bad is that we had a swingarm failure that caused Ben to crash. Unfortunately after his bad crash yesterday he was riding very well today and was pulling away from Dovi when he crashed. This is another part of his bad season, hopefully from Indy onwards we won’t have any more bad luck.”
— Ducati Report
Nicky Hayden took sixth place at the United States Grand Prix after putting in a determined and calculated performance, and despite being slowed a bit by an early encounter with Bautista.
Just off the start, the American and Spaniard touched lightly, causing Hayden to lose some ground, and despite riding at a pace similar to that of the group that was fighting over fourth place, he was only able to catch Bradl.
Valentino Rossi had a more difficult race, struggling with a setup with which he wasn’t able to ride quickly enough all weekend. Two laps from the end, a fall when braking for the Corkscrew prevented him from earning eighth-place points.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th
“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) DNF
“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 tyre 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.”
Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager
“It’s a shame about Nicky’s start, as he and Bautista touched and he lost contact with the leaders. It took him a while to get by Alvaro, who was a bit slower, and then he rode at fourth-place pace, similar to Spies, Crutchlow and Dovi. But it’s obviously difficult when there’s a gap to close on strong riders who are pushing hard. Anyway, on a track where we had a hard time in practice, Nicky made a bit of progress in the race. As for Vale, unfortunately, we had a little more trouble, and we weren’t able to put him in a situation where he could interpret this track well. In particular, we didn’t find a good balance for the bike, as the rear was working too hard and the front not enough. We’ll have to take another look at the data and prepare well for Indianapolis.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 17-17°C; Track 43-43°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner once again claimed a come-from-behind win at Laguna Seca to claw back valuable points in the MotoGP™ championship battle.
Unlike his main championship rivals Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and teammate Dani Pedrosa, Stoner opted for the combination of the softer rear and harder rear slick for today’s race. After trailing Lorenzo for most of the race, Stoner managed his tyres well and was able to exploit the extra rear grip on offer to pass Lorenzo down the main straight on the entry to turn one on lap twenty-two. Lorenzo continued his imperious podium record by placing second, while Pedrosa finished in third place. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the highest placed CRT rider and grabbed a good haul of points by crossing the finish line in ninth place.
Weather conditions today were the same as the previous two days, with cloudy and cool conditions in the morning before becoming warm and clear in the afternoon and track temperatures for the race remained stable at 43°C. Only six of the twenty-one riders on the grid selected the harder compound for the rear, while all but three riders selected the harder front slick for today’s race.
Stoner’s remains in third position in the riders standings, though his fourth victory of the season means he narrows the gap to Lorenzo to thirty-two points and just nine points to Pedrosa.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Congratulations to Casey on his fourth win of the season and Repsol Honda for once again having both riders on the podium. The quick pace we witnessed on Friday and Saturday continued today, with Dani setting a new fastest lap record on lap five and the overall race time was six seconds quicker than last year. It was another good crowd here at Laguna Seca and it is always good to see how much MotoGP is supported in the United States. This is a challenging circuit for riders with its highly variable weather between the morning and afternoon sessions and I am pleased that our tyre allocation helped riders manage the conditions comfortably.”
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Today’s race was held under very similar conditions to Friday and Saturday and with cloud cover once again being heavy this morning, tyre choice, particularly for the rear was not clear for the riders until right before the race as teams monitored track temperatures before making a final decision. In the end, six out of the twenty-one riders selected the harder option rear slick, though both rear tyre compounds worked very well during the race, with Dani setting the fastest lap on the harder rear slick early in the race and Casey winning on the softer rear option.”
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda – Race Winner
“We knew with the soft tyre we had to be gentle to start with, though I tried to get to the front as soon as possible but Dani and Jorge got in front of me at the start. Jorge was riding well and taking good lines, so I sat back and tried to slowly pick up the pace. Eventually I could get past and the race was surprisingly similar to last year so it was good to get another win here.”