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The season so far: The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

The season so far: The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

A review of the latest MotoGP round at Laguna Seca, with some of the best video footage from the weekend.

The stakes were high heading to the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, round eleven of the MotoGP World Championship. The race was not only important for the shape of the title picture, but there was also some serious home bragging rights on the line. 2005 & 2006 racewinner Nicky Hayden was the most successful local rider at Laguna Seca with a MotoGP bike, but both he and Colin Edwards would have two fellow countrymen making a one-off shot at glory.

Ben Spies and Jamie Hacking were on double duty for Suzuki and Kawasaki, respectively, competing concurrently in MotoGP and AMA Superbike action over the course of the weekend. Spies was using a third GSV-R bike for his 800cc opportunity, whilst MotoGP debutant Hacking was standing in for injured rider John Hopkins -present at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a spectatorial capacity only as a result of his recent injuries.

Those riders from further afield had flown in almost direct from Sachsenring, the scene of round ten. Arriving early were Chris Vermeulen and Jorge Lorenzo, who took part in a meet&greet and autograph session in San Francisco´s Hard Rock Café on the Tuesday prior to the race.

The last to touch down in the U.S. was Dani Pedrosa, who had recently undergone surgery after a nasty crash in Germany. The Spaniard had vowed to test his condition in the , with conclusions from the opening run by both he and mentor Alberto Puig casting doubt on any further participation at Laguna Seca.

Whilst Pedrosa was struggling, Casey Stoner was dominating the sessions once more. He broke the pole record whilst using race tyres on Friday morning, then did so again in FP2. The afternoon session was halted by a crash for Anthony West, an incident which emphasised the usefulness of the airfence safety barriers used for the race.

Stoner´s phenomenal form carried over into qualifying, as he extended his run of pole positions with another new record. Valentino Rossi was unable to match his rival´s times, but nonetheless put himself second and in the best possible position to stick with Stoner when the lights went out.

Rossi had renewed his contract with Yamaha during the weekend, and some of the factory´s former stars were also in attendance at the Californian track. Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kenny Roberts Sr. received special recognition as `Legends of Laguna Seca´ for their efforts on home soil in seasons past.

The practice and qualifying sessions over and done with, Sunday was raceday at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The MotoGP tussle was a breathtaking duel between Rossi and Stoner, with some hard passes thrown in for good measure. Whilst Rossi eventually took the victory, his Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo suffered a big crash on the opening lap, although there were still plenty of smiles from those with an affinity to Yamaha.


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