A Festival Of Racing
Last year's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca was a festival of racing. But more especially, it was a festival of American racing, for many reasons. First and foremost, it saw the return of premier class motorcycle racing to US soil after 11 years. Secondly, because it saw an American winner, and an American runner-up. Thirdly, because it saw visits from the cream of Hollywood, truly the American Dream. But what made it an especially American occasion was the fact that the Europeans hated it.
Looked at in isolation, Laguna Seca is a spectacular track. The blind drop over the crest and into the Corkscrew is one of the most breathtaking sections in racing. But sadly, the track doesn't exist in isolation: it exists surrounded by hard concrete walls just feet from the track. Marco Melandri compared turn 6 to "the entrance to the Autopista in Milan". His distaste for the track was only reinforced by the three hard falls he took during the weekend, the third after less than a lap of the race, finally burying any ambitions he may have had for the world title. The only exceptions were the former Superbike riders Xaus and Bayliss, who had raced here during World Superbike rounds, and long-time veterans such as Barros, Biaggi and Checa. Bayliss and Biaggi even went on to put in decent finishes, in the face of stiff home competition.