Results and summary of the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca:
Jorge Lorenzo has tightened his grip on the 2010 World Championship by taking a comfortable victory at Laguna Seca. The Fiat Yamaha rider was helped in both respects in no small part by his compatriot and chief rival, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who crashed out of the race while leading.
Lorenzo had taken a strong start once the lights dimmed, but was passed first by Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner, and then by Pedrosa, who shot past round the outside, and got the holeshot into Laguna's first real corner, Turn 2. Lorenzo was further discomforted by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies, who had dropped the Spaniard to 4th by the time they headed up the hill towards the Corkscrew for the first time. Pedrosa seemed hell-bent on doing a repeat of his victory here last year, when the Repsol Honda man cleared off from the line never to be seen again, but he would not have it so easy this Sunday.
Stoner was pushing Pedrosa from the off, while Jorge Lorenzo sized up Ben Spies. Lorenzo was past the Texan at Rainey Curve, and set about chasing down the leading pair. It took a little over a lap, but soon Lorenzo was on Stoner, and not far off the leader Pedrosa. Stoner, meanwhile, was becoming erratic, smashing his own lap record from 2008 on one lap, then losing almost a second the next. His problem, it later emerged, was a lack of grip at the front, the Australian losing the front a couple of times before deciding that discretion was the better part of valor and running at a slightly less blistering pace.
Stoner's problems handed Lorenzo the initiative, and on lap 6, the Fiat Yamaha man was past. He then set about catching Pedrosa, but Pedrosa was proving to be a far tougher nut to crack. Lorenzo edged closer, and Pedrosa responded, the gap seesawing at just under a second, until the race was decided on lap 12. Pedrosa headed into Turn 5 hot, folded the front and crashed out, taking with him both his hopes of victory and any realistic chance of wresting the 2010 MotoGP championship away from Jorge Lorenzo. From there on in, it was plain sailing for Lorenzo, the Mallorcan only having to keep his bike the right way up to take victory. He did, finishing comfortably ahead of the struggling Stoner, and extended his championship lead to an impressive 72 points. Though there's still half the season left to go, barring incident, Lorenzo should have this year's title in the bag. The fact that the Fiat Yamaha man has only finished in either 1st or 2nd place makes it almost impossible to claw points back from Lorenzo, and only a serious incident can prevent a runaway win.
While the front of the race was rather processional, the battle behind the front two places was rather more interesting. After Pedrosa crashed out, it looked like his Repsol teammate Andrea Dovizioso would take the final spot on the podium, but that was reckoning without the mayhem that was being unleashed behind. Valentino Rossi had barged his way past Ben Spies, dragging Nicky Hayden in his wake. Dovizioso sat comfortably in 3rd, Rossi apparently incapable of catching him, until stimulus appeared from behind. Spies had elbowed his way past Nicky Hayden at Turn 5, and was closing the gap to Rossi rather rapidly. Feeling the Texan breathing down his neck, Rossi ramped up the pace, and the pair started to reel Dovizioso in.
Just as Rossi caught Dovizioso, Spies made a mistake and ran wide, running onto the extended tarmac strip on the outside of Turn 11, losing touch with Rossi and ceding the spot to Hayden. But Spies' efforts paid off, though only for the man he had been chasing. The pressure Spies had applied had put Rossi on Dovizioso, and on lap 26, the Fiat Yamaha man stuffed his M1 up the inside of the Repsol Honda to take 3rd. Dovizioso was not prepared to just roll over, pushing hard to get back for the remaining 6 laps, but try as he might, he could not get past. An exhausted Rossi took the final spot on the podium, holding off Dovizioso to the line. Nicky Hayden held on to take 5th, at the head of an American trio, the Marlboro Ducati man leading the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team of Ben Spies and - some 20 seconds further behind - Colin Edwards. San Carlo Gresini's Marco Melandri took 8th, while a photo finish decided the race for 9th in Mika Kallio's favor, the Pramac Ducati rider finishing just one thousandth of second ahead of Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi.
Turn 5, where Dani Pedrosa had crashed, took rich pickings this Sunday, with Aleix Espargaro and Marco Simoncelli joining Pedrosa in the gravel there. Added to a couple of retirements, this left a measly 12 riders classified, a rather thin effort, despite a "full" MotoGP grid of 17 starting the race.
The MotoGP riders head back to Europe, to join their Moto2 colleagues for an extended break. The series reconvenes at Brno on the weekend of August 15th, with big announcements on the future of Valentino Rossi (to Ducati), Dani Pedrosa (at Honda) and Nicky Hayden (staying at Ducati) expected.
|11||95||Roger Lee HAYDEN||HONDA||45'08.962||1'14.089|
|12||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||45'09.539||1'14.666|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||DUCATI||39'12.758||4 laps|
|58||Marco SIMONCELLI||HONDA||25'05.284||14 laps|
|26||Dani PEDROSA||HONDA||15'07.225||21 laps|
|40||Hector BARBERA||DUCATI||4'24.713||29 laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SUZUKI||2'58.025||30 laps|