‘Fairly Calculated’: Casey makes it count
Round 10 - United States 27-29 July 2012 (MotoGP class only)
Circuit Length:3.610 Km
Laps:MotoGP - 32 laps
The Laguna Seca results:-MotoGP
1 Casey Stoner (Honda), 43 mins 45.961 secs (race average speed 158.369 km/h)
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), 3.429s behind
3 Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 7.633s behind
PP Lorenzo, 1:20.554 =161.332 km/h • FL Pedrosa, 1:21.229 = 159.992 km/h
‘Fairly Calculated’: Casey makes it count
Australia’s Casey Stoner roared back into the 2012 MotoGP title fight with a superb victory in round 10 at Laguna Seca in California. Stoner bided his time in the 32-lap race before pouncing at two-thirds distance and streaking away from Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha in the closing stages, with Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa a distant third.
Stoner gambled on using Bridgestone’s softer rear tyre despite the Laguna Seca temperatures and the twisty nature of the short lap. Though he was beaten off the line by both Lorenzo and Pedrosa, he let the tyres rest in mid-race before launching an attack that carried him to a record-breaking third win at the American venue.
“It was fairly calculated,” Stoner grinned when asked about his tyre choice. “We’ve been struggling a bit with the hard rear tyre; with the softer one we knew we’d have to be a bit gentle. I sat back, cooled the tyres, slowly picked up the pace and got a bit more grip out of them. It was nice to do something different than everybody else.”
One thing he didn’t do differently was the move that won him the race. As he did last year, Stoner chose to pass Lorenzo on the way down to the Andretti Hairpin, finding superb pace from his Honda’s new engine out of the final corner and streaking past the defenceless Yamaha for his fourth win of 2012, his first since Assen four rounds ago.
With typical bravado, Lorenzo had thrown down the gauntlet in qualifying when his final lap of 1:20.554 “at full lean”, as he put it, eclipsed Stoner’s previous circuit record and secured the Spaniard his fourth consecutive pole at the Californian venue. He led commandingly from the start but bowed to the inevitable: “I knew Casey was coming stronger and stronger every lap,” he acknowledged. “It was not my day, it was Casey’s.”
Pedrosa finished on the podium for the sixth race in a row but could not match the tempo of the front two, especially after a sit-up moment just before half-distance let them slip clear. The Spaniard had the consolation of claiming fastest race lap in a new record time for Laguna Seca and retains second place overall, now just nine points clear of Stoner and 23 adrift of Lorenzo.
As the big three raced away again, it was Ben Spies who gave chase on the second factory Yamaha which he is giving up at the end of the season. Sadly for the American, just when he looked like equalling his season-best fourth position he dropped the bike with 10 laps to go, fortunately without major damage to himself.
With Spies gone the season-long, highly entertaining battle between satellite Yamaha riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow was for fourth place and it was the Italian who won out by just a tenth of a second. ‘Dovi’ missed his chance for a personal record of four straight podiums in the MotoGP class but is also in fourth place overall and now enjoys a 15-point advantage over his English teammate.
It was a weekend of contrasts for two other teammates, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi. The American – winner here in 2005 and 2006 – will be Ducati’s again next season after announcing a one-year contract extension with another year’s option. Buoyed by that news he raced to his fourth sixth-placed finish of the season.
At the finish, however, Hayden’s bike was weighed down by a passenger called Valentino Rossi. Rossi’s sister Ducati crashed out over one of the California crests with just two laps remaining and he hitched a ride back to pit lane with the Kentucky Kid. ‘Vale’ is rumoured to have received an offer of 17 million Euros to remain on the big red bike for 2013 and is expected to make his intentions clear during the three-week break before Indianapolis on August 19.
Stefan Bradl again caught the eye with seventh on the LCR Honda on his first visit to Laguna Seca ahead of the other satellite Honda ridden by Alvaro Bautista. Aleix Espargaro threw his Aspar ART around with great panache on his way to ninth, the best finish by a CRT rider so far and is now equal on 33 points with teammate Randy de Puniet.
There were six points for the returning Karel Abraham in 10th place on the satellite Ducati, but Toni Elias came off the Pramac Duke early in the race as he deputised for the injured Hector Barbera. Just 14 riders were classified, while American veteran Steve Rapp failed to make it into the race after falling foul of the 107% rule in qualifying.