Stoner Ready for Laguna

Henny Ray Abrams | July 16, 2008

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner is looking forward to getting back to America. The defending world champion is on a roll, winning the last three races following a turnaround in his fortunes beginning with the British Grand Prix at Donington Park. Then came the win in the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland, followed by another victory, his fourth of the year, in the first full wet race of the season in Germany. And now Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the site one of Stoner’s ten wins from 2007. “I don’t know if it’s rained at every track since Qatar,” Stoner said following his win over Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi in Germany. “So we’ll see if Laguna can break the duck ,like it did with the pole from last year.” The 2007 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix was Stoner’s second pole of the year and the first time that he won from the pole position. He repeated the pole-win combination in the following two races, at Brno and Misano. Written off just a few races ago, Stoner is now on track to successfully defend his title. Former championship leader Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was injured when he crashed out of the lead at the Sachsenring with a 7.5 seconds in hand. The Spaniard tumbled into the air fence, damaging his left hand and right ankle. Still, he’s going to try to ride and will certainly pick up points. The crash dropped Pedrosa to second in the championship behind Rossi, who hasn’t won in Monterey in three tries. The Italian finished third to Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards in 2005. In 2006, he was stopped by an overheating engine that knocked him out of a distant sixth place on the 30th of 32 laps. Last year the race in Monterey was the low point of the season for Michelin, and Rossi and the other Michelin riders suffered. Rossi finished top Michelin rider in fourth, but over 30 seconds behind Stoner. “We had a lot of fun at Laguna last year and the track’s a very different style of circuit, but we have a lot of fun at it,” Stoner said. “A little bit slippery, so it’s nice to be able to slide a bit. So we’ll see what we can do. We’re going there with a reasonable amount of confidence in our package, so we’ll see what we can do. But we’re happy to be going back over to the U.S.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.