MotoGP: Second Half of the Season Kicks off with US GP

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The Golden State played host to MotoGP this weekend, with the premier class racing under perfect California weather (despite a typically dreary coastal morning). With riders having to contend with the cold mornings and hot afternoons, the record gate-atteneded Laguna Seca circuit, with its roller-coaster Cork Screw turn, threw every trick it had at the GP racers.

Despite its best efforts, Seca could not get the better of Jorge Lorenzo, who had been strong all weekend and sat on pole for Sunday’s race. Despite being joined by Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner on the front row, Lorenzo looked ready to take on the Repsol Honda squad single-handedly, though teammate Ben Spies sat right behind the reigning World Champion in the fourth grid spot.

With Spies seemingly finding the extra half second he needed during the warm-up session, all eyes were on the Texan to see if he could win in front of a home crowd, find out how he and the other MotoGP riders lapped after the jumped.

For Spies, the race was perhaps decided at the start, as the factory Yamaha rider was 7th going through the first few turns, following Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, Andrea Dovizioso, and Valentino Rossi. Quickly getting by Rossi for sixth position, Spies still found himself completely out of touch with the first group, as Jorge ran away with the racing pace.

It would take several laps for Pedrosa to catch back up to Lorenzo, but once he did, he latched onto his fellow Spaniard as hard as he could. Behind them, loveable but crashable Marco Simoncelli hit the California beach in the form of a gravel trap, dashing the Italian’s hopes for a podium bid.

By the ninth lap, Casey Stoner had caught up to the two Spanish front-runners, making it an international three-way train through Laguna Seca’s 30,000+ laps. Sitting in wait, little action occurred until Casey got past Pedrosa on Lap 17, and could finally put pressure on Lorenzo. It would take another six laps before Stoner would zoom by Lorenzo on T1, the kink on the long straight, and once by, Stoner never looked back.

With Pedrosa and Lorenzo in cruise control, the rest of the racing action came from Ben Spies, who slowly chipped away at his abysmal start. The American finally closed in on Andrea Dovizioso by Lap 30, making his move at the bus stop that is Turn 11. Fending off Dovi to the finish line, Spies made the best of the day with his fourth place finish, thus keeping the great white hope of another American MotoGP Champion alive in the minds of attending race fans (though not this year it would appear).

With Edwards taking the honors as the fastest satellite rider, finishing eighth, the only unaccounted for American was Ben Bostrom. After having an off-track excursion nine laps in, B-Boz brought the second LCR Honda bike back into the pits and retired for the day. Though an expert on the Laguna Seca circuit, Bostrom struggled with the precision and differences that come with riding a MotoGP machine, though it wasn’t for a lack of effort or enthusiasm. MotoGP racing resumes at Brno in three weeks’ time.

Race Results from the US GP at Laguna Seca:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Diff.
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team
2 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing +5.634
3 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team +9.467
4 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing +20.562
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team +20.885
6 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team +30.351
7 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team +31.031
8 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +45.502
9 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP +51.549
10 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini +1’08.850
11 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing +1’09.132
12 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team 1 Lap
13 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP 1 Lap
Not Classified
19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 19 Laps
23 Ben BOSTROM USA LCR Honda MotoGP 24 Laps
58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 26 Laps
35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 29 Laps

Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved