2011 Laguna Seca MotoGP Friday Press Release Round Up

A bumper crop of press releases from the MotoGP teams at Laguna Seca. Because of European newspaper deadlines, some teams issued two press releases, one after FP1 and another at the end of the day. Below are the press releases:

Good start for the Repsol Honda Team in Laguna Seca

The Repsol Honda Team enjoyed a strong start in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix today in Monterey, California.

Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, separated by just one tenth of a second, took the top two positions in the first free practice session at the Laguna Seca circuit, while Andrea Dovizioso was six-tenths off the Australian rider in fifth.

With colder temperatures on the ground compared to last year, the riders began working on the set up of the bikes with a softer tyre that Bridgestone brought to America. Casey's best lap time this morning (1'22.300) is still one second slower than his circuit record lap (1'21.376 in 2010), but with higher track temperatures this afternoon, the times will soon improve in the second free practice session starting at 14h10, local time.

CASEY STONER – 1st 1'22.300

"This morning went ok, at the beginning of the session the tyres were working well and the grip was pretty good. We tried a few different things and got the bike working better and then the tyres started to go off quite a lot, I'm not sure if this is due to the track being cold in the first part of the session, but for sure they weren't as good at the end of the session. It will be difficult to understand if we got any real decent data this morning and we'll have to wait until we get onto the harder compound tyres this afternoon to see if the current setting will work with those or not. We still have a few areas to improve for sure, it's hard after one session to really say anything certain but I suppose we're happy enough at the moment".

DANI PEDROSA – 2nd 1'22.402

"We had a pretty good start, we needed to make some small changes on the set up of the bike to better absorb the bumps in this circuit. Laguna is more bumpy than Sachsenring and there are many fast changes of direction, we have some wheelies and hard braking, so we have to adjust the set up according to this. Early in the session I went wide in Turn 2, I made a mistake with the gear and I couldn't stop the bike, so I just released it, nothing else. For the rest, everything was OK. Bridgestone tyres, with a softer compound, worked well in the morning, so it's positive. In terms of my physical condition, my back is sore and I guess I will have more pain during the weekend, but I will try to recover well during sessions and do my best".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 5th 1'22.911

"Laguna Seca is a special track, very different from any other circuit and it takes a while to find the rhythm. This morning I didn't have too much feeling in the corner entry and I was a little slow in the middle of the corner. Considering that I was not 100% comfortable, the gap from the first riders is not too big and I'm confident that we will improve in the afternoon, when we will do a comparison between the two bikes equipped with two different set ups, a setting we thought about using in Sachsenring. This afternoon the temperatures will rise, the track will have more rubber and we will all push more. I really like to race in the U.S. because every event becomes a show. The atmosphere and the fans are incredible".

Lorenzo on Top in Laguna Seca Practice

As the mist cleared over the hills of Monterey this morning racing fans were treated to the rare sight of Yamaha Factory Racing's special 50th anniversary red and white livery on track for the 2011 Grand Prix of USA at Laguna Seca. Jorge Lorenzo was quick to get on the pace in the first of the weekend's free practice sessions, rising to second mid-session and holding until the last moments before dropping to third at the end, just 0.120 seconds from first. The World Champion got down to serious business in the afternoon session, going straight into the top spot and holding it for the entire session, recording the fastest time of the day with a 1'22.056.

Ben Spies was also looking good at his home circuit, gradually climbing to fourth just behind his team mate by the end of the morning, 0.506 seconds from first. The afternoon saw more consistent pace from the Texan rider, Spies eventually wrapping up in fifth with a 1'22.615, 0.559 from his team mate in first.

Race fans were also treated to a special experience as Kenny Roberts Sr and Eddie Lawson took to the track riding a pair of unique Yamaha YZF-R1s in full red and white 50th Anniversary livery for a number of parade laps.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 1st Time: 1'22.056 Laps: 23

"I am very happy to be back riding here at Laguna, a track I love. Today went pretty well, the bike felt ok. P1 I'm happy with but we need to try to improve corner entry for the bike because there are some tenths in that and it will give me more confidence turning in. It's not so bad to begin and we will try to go faster tomorrow!"

Ben Spies

Position : 5th Time: 1'22.615 Laps: 34

"Today hasn't been bad, we've worked on a lot of different set ups. We haven't found a perfect one, we've found a compromise so far but tomorrow we have a pretty good game plan on what we're going to fine tune from the bike we ended on today to get a bit of a better set up for front feel. I'm feeling good, I can tell the bike has it in it, you can see that from Jorge we're just not getting the maximum from it yet."

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

"Today was a nice practice day, we thought we would improve a little bit more but first is first which is the main thing. Jorge was quite consistent and feeling good. I think we have finished with the best position to start from tomorrow but we still have some things to solve."

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

"The overall results are not so bad, Jorge had an impressive pace and he seems very confident on the bike. Ben is still working on the set up, he is not as confident with it yet as he would like to be. We will work tonight and tomorrow we will bring a new set up and look to make another step forward. We just have to fix some small details and we will be ready to race."

Lorenzo leads after first day of running at Laguna

Round 10: United States GP – Free Practice One & Two

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Friday 22 July 2011

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium

Jorge Lorenzo, last year's winner here at Laguna Seca, finished the first day of running for the United States Grand Prix fastest overall, just 0.141seconds ahead of Dani Pedrosa. Casey Stoner, who was fastest in the morning's free practice, finished third fastest a further 0.034seconds adrift.

Distinct groups can be identified from today's laptimes, with the top three separated by just 0.175seconds, Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively split by just 0.266seconds and seventh to tenth covered by 0.139seconds.

Characteristically for this region, the morning session was cool and started shrouded in mist that comes in from the coast every morning. As the sun emerged the track temperature rose to 35 degrees Celsius by the end of the morning session and to 47 degrees Celsius by the end of the second practice. In total, the track temperature increased by 20 degrees Celsius from the start of FP1 to the finish of FP2.

Consequently, almost every rider favoured the softer option slicks for the duration of the morning's 45minute run, with only a few riders choosing the harder options towards the end, although with the conditions there was little performance advantage. By the afternoon though, it was the harder option fronts and rears that were clearly the faster options, offering a distinct advantage with the increase in temperature.

Even in the cooler morning conditions, tyre performance was good thanks to the softer rear slicks selected by Bridgestone for Laguna Seca this year. Chosen as part of the continued drive to improve warm-up performance, the softer option asymmetric rear features Bridgestone's extra soft compound in the right shoulder.

Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division

"I can say that we had two good sessions of track-time today. I am pleased with soft tyre performance this morning in the cool conditions and am happy with the way we revised our rear slick tyre options for this race. This afternoon the circuit was much hotter so the harder options were favoured for the attack laps and again performance was good. We could see that Jorge was very consistent throughout the session, and also that Casey set his best lap right at the end which is a good sign for tyre durability in these conditions. The times are close at the front so tomorrow's session will be very important for the teams to perfect their setups."


Héctor Barberá twelfth but just behind factory Ducatis and only 1.368 seconds off fastest lap

In the blink of an eye the MotoGP World Championship has switched continents and after packing up following last Sunday's race in Germany the riders were back out on track today on the other side of the Atlantic. The Laguna Seca circuit in California saw two free practice sessions for the premier-class only, with fresh morning temperatures giving way to a fiercely hot afternoon. Casey Stoner set the pace in the opening session before Jorge Lorenzo took control in the afternoon, with Dani Pedrosa responding to the challenge laid down by the leading two riders in the series.

Héctor Barberá completed no less than 46 laps of the legendary circuit today, making the MAPFRE Aspar man one of the most active riders on track. The majority of them were spent assessing tyre performance, which will be a crucial factor this weekend, as well as an unsuccessful rear shock experiment this afternoon. His ninth lap of the afternoon session was his fastest of the day and made him the twelfth fastest rider overall, just over 1.3 seconds off the pace of Lorenzo.

12th Héctor Barberá 1.23.424 (46 laps): "We have tried two different tyre compounds today and it looks like the harder of the two works the best. I suffered for grip throughout the first half of this morning's session but as soon as we switched to the hard my feeling improved. I really enjoy riding at this circuit and I think that even though our position is some way down the order we have started the Grand Prix well because we have improved with every outing. The objective for tomorrow is to cut the gap to the top and compete to be the best Ducati. We tried a few things this afternoon that we weren't sure about, including a different rear shock. We weren't too keen on it but we didn't have time to change back. The time flew past today but I have enjoyed myself. It is only day one and we have lots of room to improve."

Edwards and Crutchlow make solid start in America

Colin Edwards kicked off preparations for his home race at Laguna Seca today in encouraging fashion, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider finishing the opening day of practice for the US Grand Prix in ninth position.

In cool and overcast conditions this morning, Edwards commenced the second half of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by setting the eighth quickest time, the popular Texan finishing just over 0.2s away from the top six.

This afternoon's session took place under clear blue skies and hotter conditions, with temperatures hitting a pleasant 22 degrees after a chilly 18 degrees this morning.

Track temperature increased too by 15 de grees this afternoon and cheered on by a passionate home crowd, Edwards knocked almost 0.3s off his personal best from this morning to clock a lap of 1.23.183. That put him ninth on the combined timesheets but in a close fought session, he was just over a second away from the fastest pace.

Today's two 45-minute sessions saw Cal Crutchlow tackle another steep learning curve, the British rider quickly getting to grips with another new track in his impressive rookie campaign.

Crutchlow set a best of 1.24.018 this morning, the 25-year-old confidently building up his speed on the Laguna Seca track, which includes the world famous Corkscrew section, one of the most technically demanding corners on the calendar.

Working on a revised weight distribution setting to improve his confidence with the front-end of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine, Crutchlow lowered his time to a 1.23.70 7 in the second session.

He was easily the best of the Laguna Seca newcomers today, finishing ahead of Karel Abraham and Hiroshi Aoyama, who were also sampling the short but technical layout for the first time.

Colin Edwards 9th 1.23.183 – 47 laps:

"Today was a decent start and I'm happy with the way things went. In terms of the position it is not my best start to a weekend at Laguna Seca, but I'm actually happier with the feeling of the bike than I have been for a long time at this track. The bike felt really good from the start, though we can make some improvements to the rear tomorrow just to make it feel a bit smoother and a bit less nervous. I'm confident for the rest of the weekend because I'm pretty close to the top six and we know we can go faster. I want to say a big thanks also to Bridgestone. They a greed to bring some softer tyres for this weekend and it was definitely the right choice. When it was cool this morning we really needed the softer tyres, so everybody could just get a feel for the track and get comfortable without taking too many risks. We ran the harder tyre this afternoon and that will definitely be the race tyre, and we got some good information with that too, so I'm optimistic that I can put on a good show for the American fans, who have been amazing already this weekend."

Cal Crutchlow 13th 1.23.707 – 47 laps:

"It wasn't a bad day at all although obviously I want to be much higher up than 13th. At the moment it is quite difficult to do the lap time. I know going fast never comes easy but it feels like I'm quite close to the limit and I'm still over 1.6s behind. I'm the best of the rookies and that's a good start but it seems we've taken a step si deways and everybody else has taken a step forward. The bike feels better than Germany last weekend but we can still make it better. We're not far away and we've got some ideas to work on tonight but it also a lack of track knowledge that doesn't help. Trying to learn the track and go fast at the same time is not easy, but I'm making progress. The track itself is really good fun. The Corkscrew is pretty amazing although I've run off there twice. The key part is the approach and it is weird running up to it, because you can't even see it as you climb the hill. But it is a pretty amazing corner and it feels like you're dropping off the end of the earth."

Karel Abraham made significant progress and finished fourteenth in the free practice

The Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham has completed successful debut in Monterey as he finished fourteenth in the combined timesheet of the first and the second free practice of the U.S. Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca.

"It's not easy to ride at this circuit," admitted Karel Abraham. "Some of the corners are situated in such a way that you can't see the apex until you enter them."

Trying to find the right set-up of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11, the twenty-one years old Czech rider completed 20 laps in each free practice and finished just 1,755 seconds behind the reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo. "It's quite a big gap. We have to work hard to minimize the diference between us and the riders ahead of us,"

"Laguna Seca is a new circuit for me," added Karel Abraham, reffering to the tomorrow's qualifying practice. "We will do our best and then we will see."


First laps on the fascinating Laguna Seca circuit, USA, for the Pramac Racing Riders. Randy De Puniet and Loris Capirossi have terminated the first free session respectively at 12th and 15th position and at 2pm local time will be back on track for the second practice session at their disposal today.

Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing rider – 12th in 1'23.807

"Today it didn't go so bad even if I didn't have the right grip both in the front and rear part of the bike. I am sure that with some small adjustments on the traction control we can aim to the top six as we are only half a second behind. I lose to much time in the fast corners at the moment, but in the afternoon with higher track temperature the situation for us should be better."

Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing rider - 15th in 1'24.566

"I am quite satisfied even if I still have some difficulties in the braking points as I don't have the strength I need to be as fast as I would like to. This morning was important for me to find back the right feeling with the bike. It will be difficult, I am sure of it, but I will grit my teeth and we will try to improve this afternoon when the track should also have more grip."


Good first day of work for Randy De Puniet, Pramac Racing rider, who has concluded with the eighth fastest lap time, first with a Ducati. His teammate, Loris Capirossi, has concluded with the sixteenth best lap time as he couldn't improve this morning lap time. Tomorrow morning another free practice session before the qualifying session that will begin at 2pm.

Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer

"We have made some good step forward this afternoon. Randy was happy about the modifications we have made and tomorrow we can concentrate on maintaining a more stable rhythm. This is a difficult track and to make a perfect lap each time isn't so simple. Randy has basically used always the same rear tyre and this didn't also allow us to improve the best lap time at the end of the session, but as for today we can be happy with what we got."

Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing rider – 8th in 1'23.135

"A good first day of work. We made it to improve by seventh tenths of a second compare to this morning and this give us good expectations for the next couple of days of work. I really enjoyed today the track, we have tried many solutions but as we kept the same rear tyre during the session we couldn't make it to improve more in the last few laps. I am confident."

Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing rider - 16th in 1'24.566

"In the afternoon it was probably more difficult because I only took one painkiller to try to understand which were my real physical conditions. Sincerely I found more complications as I couldn't make it to ride as in the first free practice session. Tomorrow it will surely not be easy, but I am here to ride and give the maximum to climb the classification."


Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli struggled more than usual to get an initial feeling for his Honda RC212V at the famously tricky Laguna Seca circuit today. The Italian is not a long way from the day's pacesetters but he is still short of his optimum pace and after a long meeting with his team this afternoon he will head out on track tomorrow with renewed determination and confidence to find it. His team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama has again struggled to find the promising form he showed in the early stages of the season.

Marco Simoncelli (6th 1' 22.803) "I am struggling a little here at Laguna to get on the pace like I have done at other circuits. We are not far off but so far I haven't established a good feeling with the bike. I probably also need to find a faster way round the track, which is not an easy one and not one I know so well. I am quite fast in the second and third sectors, which includes the 'Corkscrew', but I am losing time in the first and fourth, so we have to improve my acceleration out of the last turn and try to find more confidence in those two sectors."

Hiroshi Aoyama (16th 1' 24.590 ) "It has been a difficult day, especially this morning. The afternoon was slightly better and we were able to work on tyre choice for the race. I hope we can improve tomorrow and secure a good position on the grid."

Fausto Gresini "It wasn't a bad first day. Marco has worked very hard with the team on his set-up and in the end we are not far off. With a few small changes tomorrow morning we will know if we are on the right lines but I am confident that we have room to improve and be competitive, which is our objective as always. Laguna is a unique circuit but I am sure Marco can do well here in America. Hiroshi is going through a difficult period and we expect more from him considering the potential he showed in the first part of the season. He is going backwards and that is a strange thing – it seems as though he is lacking motivation and I find that hard to understand because he can do much better than this and I expect much more from him."


Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden posted the 10th and 11th best times, respectively, in the first day of free practice at the United States Grand Prix. The Italian rider continued using the GP11.1. Meanwhile, Hayden did an initial run with the GP11 before doing a comparison between the two versions and then using only the GP11.1 in the afternoon.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:23.195)

"It's nice to be back at Laguna, a track I love, and things started off okay with the new bike. It was my first time with it, but it wasn't something I needed a lot of time to get familiar with since I've ridden the GP12, which is similar. We're just trying to evaluate it, and it definitely has some pluses. The gearbox is really nice, so Ducati has done a great job with that. We're always trying different things like shock springs and new settings, but it's not every day that you get to ride with a new gearbox that probably everybody will have in the future. We're just trying to decide which bike will give us the best chance for a good result on Sunday."

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (1:23.369)

"After yesterday's technical briefing with Jerry and the team, we decided to continue with the new bike, so I only used the GP11.1. We started with one bike that had the Sachsenring setup, which has a significant change to the weight distribution, while the second bike had a standard setup. I actually prefer the one from Germany. We need to keep working to balance the bike and to improve the rear grip, and then we hope to get a little closer to the pace of the others. We have to try to do better than we have at the last couple of races, and especially to start closer to the front. I'm pleased that Bridgestone brought some soft tyres, which worked well in the cool temperatures this morning, although I felt better with the hard when the conditions were warmer in the afternoon. If race conditions are like this, that's what I'll use."

Bautista seventh and on the pace in the Californian sun

Publish Date: Saturday, July 23, 2011

Álvaro Bautista followed on from his strong performance last weekend in Germany to produce his best first day's performance of the season so far at Laguna Seca today.

Bautista (P7, 1'23.056, 49 laps), was in constant touch with the top-six through the afternoon session, even though he couldn't find the rear grip from his Rizla Suzuki that he wanted over the 3,610m American circuit. He worked hard with his crew to get the levels of adhesion that he is looking for to make the next step up and compete with the group in front of him. Bautista still believes there is more to come from him and his machine over the rest of the weekend and is in a confident mood as he heads towards tomorrow's qualifying session.

Today's afternoon practice was held in brilliant sunshine with cloudless skies covering the Laguna Seca Raceway. World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha was the fastest rider of the day, with last weekend's winner Dani Pedrosa second and current championship leader Casey Stoner in third. Bautista is only a second from first place and will be looking to break into a 1'22 lap tomorrow, a feat which was only achieved by the top-six today.

Rizla Suzuki has a free practice session of 45-minutes tomorrow morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday's 32-lap race is the 10th of the season and the action gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

"This morning the track was very cold so we started with the softer tyres and from the beginning it felt like we didn't have very much grip from the rear when entering a corner. The contact feeling wasn't quite right so we worked on improving that and we also tried some different electronics settings for the spin control. In the second session the track temperatures had increased so we used the harder compound tyres, but we seemed to have the same problem as this morning with corner entry grip. This didn't give me a good feeling and made me slower in the corner and on the exit than I wanted to be. We worked hard to try and resolve it but we didn't quite manage it, so it gives us something to work towards tomorrow. My lap-times and rhythm were not too bad though and I was able to follow some fast guys quite easily, so this is a good sign. I hope that tomorrow we can improve on the rear grip and do some work on the gearbox, because we are not at our maximum here just yet. So we have a lot of work to do on Saturday, but at the moment I am very confident because my feeling is positive like it was last week in Germany."

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"It's been a very solid first day here at Laguna Seca for Álvaro and the Rizla Suzuki team. The performance at Sachsenring last weekend has helped his confidence and it's clear that he has brought a slightly different tactic to Friday's sessions to try and be as close to the lead group's pace as he possibly can, as we head to qualifying on Saturday. We're pretty close to the front guys everywhere except for the third section, but if we can find a decent step in lap-time there, and improve the overall rear grip, we should be in good shape for the rest of the weekend."

The Repsol Honda Team maintains momentum at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

The Repsol Honda team has started strongly in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, placing its riders in the top four positions of the time sheets at the end of the first day of free practice at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Dani Pedrosa set a fast lap of 1'22.197 to finish overall second today, just one tenth off the provisional pole position for Jorge Lorenzo, while Casey Stoner was third, thirty four thousandths off Dani, and Andrea Dovizioso, fourth, very close to his team mates.

The riders were able to test the Bridgestone soft tyre compound in the morning due to the cold temperatures, and the harder tyre in the afternoon, with the track temperature 15 degrees higher, and both performed reasonably well even if the circuit grip level is still low.

The Repsol Honda Team will keep working tomorrow morning to improve the set up of the RC212V to prepare for a strong qualifying practice at a unique circuit, with a combination of hard braking and very fast changes of directions.

DANI PEDROSA – 2nd 1'22.197

"The second session in the afternoon was pretty interesting, we made some changes on the bike and tried the race tyre, looking to set up the bike to absorb the bumps of which there are many in this track and they especially affect the front. The grip was a little poor today and it was also very windy out there, so we haven't yet found the perfect ride. In the morning we tried the softer compound and it had a little more grip, and in the afternoon, with the race tyre, it was more difficult to find grip, but perhaps the track conditions were not perfect, so we are hoping to keep improving tomorrow".

CASEY STONER – 3rd 1'22.231

"We've been trying all day to get a slightly different balance with the bike to get the tyres working differently but we're struggling to get the feeling that we want and that we've had in the past. We've changed the set up quite substantially, with pivot positions and trying to get the rear to work with a little less temperature in the tyre, which we've accomplished but still haven't got the grip that we want and we're creating too much wheel spin. Also, we're struggling to find a good feeling in the front and just not totally comfortable with the bike in general so we have a some work to do tonight and will continue in the morning to get prepared for qualifying".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 4th 1'22.537

"This afternoon we did a comparison between two different set ups and the feeling improved. We still have a gap of four tenths from the first rider, but we lapped more consistently. We need to keep on working to improve the pace and the feeling with the front but in general I'm confident that tomorrow we will be able to make another step forward. Compared to the first free practice, lap times came easier this afternoon and tomorrow we will continue working in this direction".


Monterey, 23 July: productive first day of practices for LCR pair at Laguna Seca race track with Toni Elias setting the 15th lap time overall (1'23.830) whilst local hero Ben Bostrom makes his first outing aboard the Honda RCV qualifying 18th (1'26.159).

The reigning Moto2 World Champion completed 24 laps in the afternoon session at the tricky American surface riding one machine only and concentrated on tyres pressures and base overall package. Wildcard Ben Bostrom who is doing double duty with MotoGP and AMA Superbike this weekend knocked over a second off his times from the first session though trails 4 seconds off the leading time.

Elias – 15th: "This is a tricky track a bit different from the others but I really enjoy racing here. We have been working on bike set as always but here we run only one machine and it's hard to make big changes: if you do a mistake it's difficult to come back with only 45-minute session. However this first outing was quite positive and if we can fine tune the bike for tomorrow I am sure we can improve and I can have more fun".

Bostrom – 18th: "Well... it was a great experience and I enjoyed myself very much. The adjustment we made for this afternoon session worked better and chassis set up felt better. I feel overall that Bridgestone tyres are very good and the grip level is very high. I am struggling with the front in braking and turning into the corners so, in the last run, I took the opportunity to watch the other riders to see how they brake and how they turn into the corners of "my" race track".

Troy Lee Designs produces special helmet in support of Japan at Laguna

Publish Date: Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista will have a one-off Troy Lee designed Shoei helmet at this weekend's USGP at Laguna Seca, to show TLD's and his support for the people of Japan following the tragedy there earlier this year.

This beautiful paint-scheme has been created by Troy Lee Designs' Japanese designer Maki Ushiroyama and features all the flags of the fourteen countries on the MotoGP calendar, with pride of place going to the Japanese ‘Nisshōki' or ‘Hinomaru' – as it is more commonly known – on the top of the helmet. The colours of all nations is to represent the global support for Japan following the tragedy in March and an added message in Japanese translates as ‘Ganbare Nippon', which literally means ‘Cheer up Japan, do your best and don't give up!'

Bautista will wear the helmet for the first time during Saturday morning's practice session at Laguna Seca and will continue to use the design for the rest of the weekend including Sunday's 32-lap race. He will also use the helmet during the Indianapolis Grand Prix next month after which this unique helmet will be auctioned to raise funds in support of a Japanese charity. The full details of the auction and how you can bid on this amazing helmet will be released after the Indianapolis race.

Maki Ushiroyama – Creative Director, Troy Lee Designs:

"As a Japanese person, and because we have many Japanese staff at Troy Lee, it was a great honour to do this design for Álvaro to wear at Laguna in support of Japan. I really wanted to help my homeland and this is a great way to do it. I wanted to create something very cool that Álvaro would like and also very tasteful to support all the people that were affected by this tragedy. I think we have succeeded in that because Álvaro loves the design and I'm really pleased his reaction has been so positive! The graphic shows that all the 14 countries visited by MotoGP are supporting Japan, and I guess I can call the big red circle on top the heart of Japan!

"On one side is the American flag to represent the heart of Troy Lee Designs, the Laguna Seca Circuit and US Suzuki. On the front is the Spanish flag for Álvaro's heart and along the back the UK flag is there to represent the crew's heart. Along with the team, TLD looks forward to auctioning this absolutely one-off helmet and aiding a charity back in Japan to help the people that need it most."


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