2008 Laguna Seca FP2 Times Day 1 - Stoner Smashes Pole Record Again

The second session of free practice at Laguna Seca took place under considerably better conditions than this morning's FP1. The sun shone, displacing the fog which had delayed practice in the morning, and warming things up nicely.

Conditions may have been different, but the outcome was exactly the same. Once again, Casey Stoner thoroughly dominated qualifying practice, leading by at least half a second for almost all of the session. He saved the last to best, taking another 0.1 of a second off his track record, set in the morning. Stoner is now 0.466 faster than his own pole record, set in 2007.

But he's not just quick for a single lap. Stoner was running constantly in the low 1'22s, about half a second quicker than the next fastest lapper, Valentino Rossi, who was running consistent high 1'22s. At this rate, there's going to be a fantastic battle for 2nd place.

Nicky Hayden improved vastly this afternoon, setting a string of 1'23 second laps, and snatching 2nd spot in the afternoon with a 1'22.634. The problem is, of course, that even Hayden's single fast lap is 8/10ths of a second slower than Stoner's, and 8/10ths is a lot at a short and tight track like Laguna.

Chris Vermeulen continues to impress, keeping stubbornly in the top 3 all session, only losing out once the fast times started to fly at the end of the session. Stoner, Rossi and Vermeulen look like settling the podium, and it's most likely to be settled in that order.

With Alex de Angelis getting up into 4th spot, his team mate Shinya Nakano forced to settle for 6th, the Gresini Hondas are flying at Laguna Seca. A podium is likely to be out of their reach, but they could definitely both get in the way.

Colin Edwards was slow in the early part of the session, only picking up speed in the latter part, and the same was true for fellow Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo. Even James Toseland picked up some speed later on, though it didn't get him any further than 16th position.

Ben Spies won the battle of the wildcards, with a creditable 11th spot, though he was slowest Suzuki. Spies was consistently in the top half of the table, though, and quickly settling in on the bike. Spies could improve some more on before the weekend is out.

Marco Melandri slipped down the order in this afternoon's session, but was still setting decent times. He is much more competitive here than he has been all year, though he's still a little off the pace.

The gap covering the top 15 is 1.8 seconds, quite a chunk considering this is one of the shortest tracks on the calendar. But ignore Casey Stoner's time, and there's only a second covering 2nd to 15th (Dani Pedrosa: suffering, but improving), which is a good deal closer. Stoner is likely to walk away with the race, but the competition behind the reigning World Champion could be close.

The session was red-flagged with 20 minutes to go, after Ant West lost the front just before Turn 3, and his bike thumped into the air fence, puncturing a section. The incident hightlighted the safety issues at Laguna. Most other tracks have enough room for clearing up wreckage without red-flagging practice - and don't need so much air fence, which can get punctured. But the layout of Laguna means that there are some places where an accident brings proceedings to a halt almost automatically. Turn 3 is such a spot, as well as the ridge that the section up towards the Corkscrew runs along. It just goes to show how physical geography can both bless a track with a fantastic layout, and create safety headaches at the same time.

Practice continues tomorrow morning.
 

Pos.No.RiderManufacturerFast LapDiffDiff Previous
11Casey STONERDUCATI1'21.826  
269Nicky HAYDENHONDA1'22.6340.8080.808
346Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA1'22.7690.9430.135
415Alex DE ANGELISHONDA1'22.8080.9820.039
57Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI1'22.8471.0210.039
656Shinya NAKANOHONDA1'22.9241.0980.077
75Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA1'23.0771.2510.153
84Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA1'23.0971.2710.020
924Toni ELIASDUCATI1'23.1141.2880.017
1065Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI1'23.1851.3590.071
1111Ben SPIESSUZUKI1'23.2441.4180.059
1233Marco MELANDRIDUCATI1'23.3171.4910.073
1348Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA1'23.4151.5890.098
1450Sylvain GUINTOLIDUCATI1'23.4951.6690.080
152Dani PEDROSAHONDA1'23.7071.8810.212
1652James TOSELANDYAMAHA1'23.9432.1170.236
1714Randy DE PUNIETHONDA1'23.9552.1290.012
1812Jamie HACKINGKAWASAKI1'24.3712.5450.416
1913Anthony WESTKAWASAKI1'24.4832.6570.112


Circuit records:

 

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First Images from Laguna Seca

 

I'm sitting next to Toby Moody in the Laguna Seca Media Center, and when he brought up the foggy, cool weather, I replied that it was nice compared to the scorching heat of two years ago. He disagreed. "Bring on the heat!" he said, smiling. Extremely nice guy, Mr. Moody. Some television network will do very well to secure his and Mr. Ryder's services next season.

Free Practice 1 was delayed fifteen minutes or so as the riders prepared to go out on track. Dani Pedrosa moved up about ten notches on the tough guy scale, appearing in his garage walking with a crutch on his right arm, his left heavily bandaged. He was clearly damaged, still in considerable pain from his crash in Germany. Somehow he climbed onto his bike and took to the track. He ended up last on the session timing sheet, but the fact the he went out in his condition is extremely impressive.
 

At Donington, Ben Spies sat beneath Loris Capirossi's image, but he has his own graphic panel here at Laguna. He managed 11th before crashing, making clear that while Donington was an introduction to the 800cc Suzuki, he means business here on home turf. MotoGP rookie Jamie Hacking was right behind Spies in 12th.

Both American riders had a short time to shift into AMA Superbike mode, don their local leathers, and return for the first Superbike practice session. In person, the differences between the two series' machines is dramatic, making the idea of riding one before hoping on the other pretty impressive.  More photos tonight.

 

 

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2008 Laguna Seca FP1 Times Day 1 - Stoner Smashes Pole Record As Usual

The first session of free practice was very much business as usual at Laguna Seca. Casey Stoner was quickest, though it took him 6 laps to be the fastest man on track this morning, rather than his usual 3. Stoner was running low to mid 1'22s with ease, until he started hitting 1'21s. As a reference: That's nearly 4/10ths of a second faster than the existing pole record, set by Casey Stoner last year at Laguna.

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2008 Laguna Seca MotoGP Preview - No Rest

The life of a MotoGP rider can seem utterly sublime to outsiders. Flying around the globe to ride the most advanced motorcycles on the planet at some of the best tracks in the world sounds like a pretty idyllic existence. Combine this with a very generous salary, a three-day work week and continuous VIP treatment - including a fresh supply of attractive young companions - and for anyone who loves motorcycles, it is hard to imagine a better life.

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Edwards Signs With Tech 3 For 2009

After Colin Edwards got bumped off the factory Yamaha team to make way for rising star Jorge Lorenzo, it looked like the Texas Tornado's career in MotoGP was starting to wind down. Edwards himself fueled the speculation, with talk of a possible return to the US to finish his career riding for Yamaha in the AMA Superbike series.

Since then, though, two things have happened that have made Edwards change his mind.

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MotoGPMatters.com Coming Live From Laguna Seca!

As regular readers of this website may know, it is not often that we get to attend a MotoGP race. Without the access provided by a press pass, it would be nigh on impossible to provide the kind of coverage that readers of MotoGPMatters.com have come to expect from trackside. And obtaining press accreditation for MotoGP events is no easy feat for online publications, as websites that cover motorcycle racing are required to make a financial contribution before obtaining media access.

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Dorna Chief:"A Spec ECU Would Be Better, But It's Difficult"

Eighteen months after the MotoGP class reduced its capacity from 990 to 800cc, ostensibly in the name of safety, the number of worried faces at Dorna is increasing. It's been 29 races since a race was won thanks to a pass made on the last lap, and complaints have been growing that MotoGP has lost much of its former shine.

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Big Names To Attend Riders For Health Laguna Seca Auction

As always prior to many MotoGP events around the world, the outstanding charity Riders for Health, set up by Randy Mamola and Andrea and Barry Coleman, will be holding an auction of some extremely desirable items before the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Some of the items up for grabs include Nicky Hayden-signed memorabilia, VIP passes to the Yamaha party at the Monterey Aquarium, Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix poster autographed by the Yamaha Weekend of Champions and VIP passes to the Legends of Laguna Seca induction party honoring Eddie Lawson and Kenny Roberts. All things and experiences to covet, and with the proceeds going to Riders for Health, your money will be going to actively save lives, and help leverage motorcycles at what they do best: provide access under difficult circumstances.

If the thought of all that memorabilia isn't enough to persuade you, several big names from the MotoGP paddock, past and present, will be appearing to talk about life in the paddock. Guests are likely to include Randy Mamola, Wayne Rainey, Marco Melandri, James Toseland, Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, Randy de Puniet, Toni Elias, Sylvain Guintoli, Kevin Schwantz, Dean Miller and Herve Poncheral.

The auction is on Thursday, and is scheduled to start at 4:00 P.M. at the Riders for Health Turn 4 Hospitality Suite near the paddock. If you're going to attend the Laguna Seca Grand Prix, don't miss this great event. 

 

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Decision On Pedrosa's Fitness To Wait For 32 Hours

Dani Pedrosa's crash at the Sachsenring could have more serious consequences than he feared. After examination by Doctor Mir at the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, the Spaniard's injuries, especially to his left hand, are fairly serious, and will require more treatment and observation before a decision can be made on whether Pedrosa will be able to take part in the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca next weekend. Dr Mir told reporters that a decision would be made within 32 hours, but that inflamed tendons were adding to Pedrosa's broken finger, making riding a motorcycle extremely difficult.

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2008 Sachsenring MotoGP Race Report - The Equalizer

It seems entirely self-evident: the winner of any given motorcycle race on any given Sunday will be the best rider, on the best bike, with the best tires. The rider with the most horsepower, the sweetest handling and the stickiest rubber - and the skill to leverage this magic triptych -  should, barring incident, win every race.

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2008 Sachsenring Warmup Results

Warmup took place on a wet track with a drying line. But rain is expected to arrive in the next couple of hours, so it looks like being a wet race.

 

Pos.No.RiderManufacturerFast LapDiffDiff Previous
12Dani PEDROSAHONDA1'28.157  
269Nicky HAYDENHONDA1'29.5981.4411.441
34Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA1'30.0121.8550.414
452James TOSELANDYAMAHA1'30.3422.1850.330
556Shinya NAKANOHONDA1'30.5122.3550.170
615Alex DE ANGELISHONDA1'30.6312.4740.119
75Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA1'30.8742.7170.243
814Randy DE PUNIETHONDA1'30.9052.7480.031
946Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA1'30.9762.8190.071
1048Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA1'31.4103.2530.434
111Casey STONERDUCATI1'31.6173.4600.207
1265Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI1'31.6673.5100.050
1333Marco MELANDRIDUCATI1'31.9973.8400.330
147Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI1'32.7364.5790.739
1524Toni ELIASDUCATI1'33.3125.1550.576
1650Sylvain GUINTOLIDUCATI1'33.5005.3430.188
1713Anthony WESTKAWASAKI1'34.1596.0020.659

 

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Reminder: Sachsenring MotoGP Race On CBS, Not Speed

Just a quick reminder for all our US-based readers. The German round of MotoGP from the Sachsenring will NOT be broadcast by Speed TV, the usual broadcaster. Instead, the Sachsenring MotoGP race will be broadcast by CBS, in a time-delayed broadcast. Fans wanting to watch the 125cc and 250cc races, those races will be shown in Speed TV.

For details, head over to http://www.tvracer.com/ where they have a complete schedule of racing broadcasts on all US networks.

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2008 Sachsenring QP Report

After the damp morning practice, during which Dani Pedrosa finally pipped Casey Stoner to the post setting the fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, the big question in the afternoon was whether the Pedrosa could repeat this during qualifying, or whether Stoner would dominate as he had on Friday. It was a question Stoner seemed determined to answer in a hurry. He went straight to the top of the timesheets on his 2nd lap, and by lap 4, he was close to the previous pole record pace, with a time of 1'22.082, less than 7 minutes into the session.

Under normal circumstances, that time would have stood for most of qualifying, while the riders worked on their race setup, before breaking out the soft qualifiying rubber. But the possibility of showers disrupting practice meant that a number of riders took a very early qualifier, gambling that such a move could pay off if the rain started to fall for real. Alex de Angelis, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards all took a very early qualifier, with Edwards taking provisional pole well before the halfway mark, with a lap of 1'21.794.

Worryingly for Edwards, that time was only 0.2 seconds faster than the 1'21.996 set by Casey Stoner, in the middle of a long run on race tires. Qualifiers can generally be relied on to take close to a second off of your best time, so Edwards' 0.2 second advantage was looking more like a 0.8 second deficit, once Stoner got serious.

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