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MotoGP goes stateside for Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

MotoGP goes stateside for Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

MotoGP action returns to Laguna Seca this week for the third time since the reintroduction of the U.S. round to the World Championship calendar in 2005.

MotoGP action returns to Laguna Seca this week for the third time since the reintroduction of the U.S. round to the World Championship calendar in 2005. The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix takes place on Sunday July 22nd at the famous American track, and could prove to be one of the crucial races of 2007.

Casey Stoner arrives at Laguna Seca as the MotoGP World Championship leader, and whatever happens he will enjoy his summer break at the top of the classification, courtesy of a 32 point gap between himself and second placed Valentino Rossi. The Ducati Marlboro rider has been on top form this season, taking five victories in the class and holding a lowest finish of fifth on race day. Last year he crashed out in the U.S. round, but it is a more mature Stoner who is taking MotoGP by storm in 2007, and he will surely be one of the frontrunners at this latest visit stateside.

Five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi failed to finish at the last Grand Prix in Germany, allowing Stoner the chance to extend his lead in the title hunt. He suffered a mechanical problem last year in America when leading the race, and will be hoping that history doesnt repeat itself this year as he looks to regain his crown.

Dani Pedrosa finally ended both his and Hondas winless streak in Germany, and he currently lies third in the standings. The Spaniard trails Stoner by 52 points, and will have to maintain his form to get back in the race for his first MotoGP title.

One of a number of home riders set to start at Laguna Seca, John Hopkins is currently on a rich run of form in his most successful MotoGP season to date. The Anglo-Americans move to Kawasaki next year was announced at Sachsenring, but Hopkins remains as driven as ever to get results whilst with Rizla Suzuki until the end of the season. He lies just ahead of Marco Melandri and team-mate Chris Vermeulen in the classification, with the latter having taken pole last year at the U.S. Grand Prix.

Colin Edwards took second place on his first MotoGP visit to his home track in 2005, and knows the circuit well, something that will aid him in the battle with figures like the resurgent Loris Capirossi, reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden and Alex Barros. Hayden has been the revelation of the past two races, starting 13th and 14th on the grid respectively and reaching the third step on the podium. The Kentucky Kid has won both battles of Laguna Seca since MotoGP returned in 2005, and has to be considered one of the favourites for victory this weekend.

Two riders also well-acclimatised to the circuit will be making one-off appearances at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The World Champions brother Roger Lee Hayden will make it a family affair when he takes a wild card spot for Kawasaki in one of their key markets, whilst AMA Superbike legend Miguel Duhamel will undertake his first MotoGP race since 1992 when he stands in for Toni Elias in the Gresini Honda team. Both riders are also entering the AMA races on July 22nd, making them the first riders to compete in both championships on the same day and the first to ride an additional race to MotoGP since Chris Walker at Donington in 1995.

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix takes place on July 22nd, with practice beginning on the preceding Friday at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca played host to Grand Prix events from 1988 to 1994, but advancements in MotoGP racing machines meant that the series withdrew the event from the calendar whilst 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 circuits principal features, however, remain the same, with 3,58 km of track and 11 curves. Temperatures at the track reach scorching levels, and last year the track had to be repaved in preparation for the MotoGP race on the Sunday morning.


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