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MotoGP set for crucial clash at Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

MotoGP set for crucial clash at Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

MotoGP set for crucial clash at Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

After one of the most exciting races of the season in Germany, the MotoGP tour heads to Laguna Seca for the eagerly anticipated Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

The Sachsenring clash proved to be the ideal build-up for the eagerly awaited American race, as the top four in the overall classification battled amongst themselves for the victory right up to the breathtaking climax, with reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi eventually taking the win.

It is home rider Nicky Hayden, however, who enters the Californian race at the top of the leaderboard. The Kentucky Kid earned his first MotoGP victory last year at the circuit, and his experience of the twists and turns of Laguna Seca could prove invaluable if he is to repeat the achievement this year. This season is Hayden's best chance of taking the title, with everyone aware of the importance the race holds.

Victory at Sachsenring pushes Valentino Rossi into second place overall, piling the pressure on Hayden at the top. He lies 26 points behind his American rival and, although he will be unable to leapfrog into the top spot next weekend, a win would further close the gap and provide a huge psychological advantage for MotoGP's man-to-beat.

Rossi himself will have to be looking over his shoulder though, as two of MotoGP's young pretenders to his throne also arrive at the race in fine form. Rookie sensation and reigning 250cc World Champion Dani Pedrosa will be making his debut on American soil, and will have a steep learning curve to overcome if he is to challenge for glory. Behind him, gutsy Italian Marco Melandri will be putting forward his case for the title. The Fortuna Honda rider has been racing with a fractured collarbone for the last few races, previously unbeknownst to him, and has been astonishing spectators with a string of impressive finishes.

Loris Capirossi is fifth in the standings, ahead of Australian rookie Casey Stoner and American rider Colin Edwards. The Yamaha factory team rider has a superb pedigree at Laguna Seca, and was last year's second place finisher. After a couple of inauspicious finishes, his home race is an ideal occasion for the Texan Tornado to turn around his season.

MotoGP returned to the US for the first time in 10 years for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last July, with a fairy-tale first GP win for American Nicky Hayden. The Californian track played host to Grand Prix events from 1988 to 1994 but advancements in MotoGP racing machines required the event to be moved elsewhere while the track was modified and adapted to meet present day safety requirements.

Since December 2004 the circuit has undergone major changes, primarily to increase track safety. The first phase of modernisation included an expanded exit lane, replacement of the kerbs and widening of the main straight, whilst more recent changes involved moving back walls to create bigger run-off areas. The circuit's principal features, such as the infamous ‘Corkscrew', remain the same, with 3,61 km (2.243 miles) of track and 11 curves.

Practice sessions for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix kick off on Friday at 10am local time (GMT-7, CET-9), with qualifying on the Saturday afternoon. The race itself takes place on Sunday at 2pm.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, RED BULL U.S. GRAND PRIX

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