U.S. Grand Prix Previews

Press Release | July 15, 2008

The following is from Yamaha…

The Fiat Yamaha Team leave behind a two-month road trip across Europe this week as they take flight for America for their final appointment before the midseason break, with Valentino Rossi in fine form and on top of the MotoGP World Championship. After a rain-hit run of six races in eight weeks, culminating in Sunday’s Sachsenring splashdown, a trip to the sunshine state of California for the US Grand Prix could not have come at a better time and it represents an opportunity for Rossi to consolidate his series lead before a well-earned holiday. Second place in Germany, combined with a zero-point score for his closest title rival Dani Pedrosa, has given the Italian a sixteen-point advantage in the chase for the title with eight races remaining, although Sunday’s race winner Casey Stoner lurks just four points further back in third place. Having been absent from the US podium since taking third when MotoGP returned to Laguna Seca in 2005, Rossi’s target is to recreate Yamaha’s success during the track’s first spell on the Grand Prix calendar between 1988 and 1994, when the factory won five of the six premier-class races. After struggling for confidence over the past four rounds following a run of crashes, Jorge Lorenzo is hoping to bounce back from his latest setback, a third lap spill at the Sachsenring, on his first visit to Laguna Seca as a MotoGP rider. The Mallorcan did attend the USGP last season, however, as an expert for Spanish television, having already fallen in love with California during the previous winter when he went to ride dirt-track under the tutelage of Yamaha legend ‘King’ Kenny Roberts at his Modesto ranch. That experience could come in handy this weekend at the notoriously capricious circuit, where the intense dry heat, unpredictable asphalt and anti-clockwise layout reward the loose and aggressive riding style perfected in the dust bowls of the west coast. As the rear slides around, the front wheel is often left spinning in thin air through the dramatic elevation changes and fast, sweeping corners – none of them more spectacular than the world-famous ‘Corkscrew’. Machine set-up is relatively straightforward, with throttle connection a much more important factor than top-end power and a well balanced chassis the key to those elevation changes and diverse corners. Valentino Rossi – Hoping for good memories “Laguna hasn’t been one of my favourite tracks in the three years since we’ve been going there and it’s one of the only ones on the calendar where I haven’t won. We’re aiming to win this week, that’s for sure! It’s been a hard track for our bike but it’s been a very good track for Bridgestone and I am confident that our package will work very well there. The last two years I’ve had serious disappointments in the race and it’s been one of the low points of both seasons, I hope I have had all the bad luck I’m going to have there and that this year I can enjoy myself! We are going there with the same package that we had in Germany and so we’re going to have to work very hard to close the gap in performance to Stoner; we can’t afford to start from anywhere except the front because, with him in this form, it is then very hard to catch him. California is a great place and this year we will be doing all we can to leave it with good memories, not bad ones!” Jorge Lorenzo – A famous circuit “I’ve never raced at Laguna but last year I went there to commentate for Spanish TV and I had a great time, California is an amazing place! I am so excited to finally get the chance to race there because it’s a very special track which everyone always talks about and I am looking forward to riding at a place with such famous corners as the corkscrew. I know it’s a difficult place but I am feeling stronger and I will be doing my best to get to know the circuit as quickly as possible and find a good feeling with the bike there. We need to work hard from that start, together with Michelin, to improve the grip issues we’ve been having. I am still disappointed about Sachsenring but luckily I wasn’t hurt and it’s good to have the chance to move on quickly and focus on the next race. Now my target is to have a good weekend so that I can enjoy the summer break.” Davide Brivio – A fantastic race “We’re very happy to go to Laguna leading the championship and feeling quite strong. It’s never been a very successful track for us so we have to try and improve on our third place from 2005, which is our best result. It’s always fantastic to race there because the atmosphere is incredible and it’s a pleasure to race in California. Hopefully we will have some Californian sunshine! We need to go there on the attack and our target is to remain on the podium and maintain our championship lead.” Daniele Romagnoli – Looking for more grip “Jorge is still very disappointed with the race in Germany but thankfully he escaped unhurt from the crash. Now we have to focus on working hard at Laguna Seca on the problems he had at the Sachsenring. The issue is a lack of rear grip, which was obviously exacerbated in the wet on Sunday, and at Laguna it will be important again because we’ve seen over the past two seasons how hard this circuit is on the tyres. We won’t be trying anything new with the electronics – our focus is on working with the geometry of the bike and the suspension to find a more comfortable base setting for Jorge. This is a new track for him so he doesn’t have any experience to fall back on, which will make it an interesting weekend for sure!” The following is from Suzuki… Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is off to Laguna Seca in California for the USGP this weekend in confident mood, boosted by the podium for Chris Vermeulen last time out at Sachsenring. The team has made the transatlantic journey direct from Germany to be ready for the sixth race in eight weekends this coming Sunday, which will bring to a close the first half of the season before all the teams take a well-earned break. Vermeulen is looking forward to Laguna following his success there in previous seasons. Last year he finished second and in 2006 he qualified on pole, only to be robbed of an almost certain podium position by a mechanical problem. Loris Capirossi is still making a recovery from the severe puncture wound he suffered at Assen last month and will again need to show his true racer spirit to overcome the difficulties he will face riding in the extreme temperatures that can be encountered in California. The 3,610m long Laguna Seca circuit is situated near the town of Monterey, approximately 160kms south of San Francisco. The circuit was built in a former army training zone and features one of the wildest parts of track anywhere in the world. The scary looking ‘Corkscrew’ is almost a sheer drop over a blind left hand turn with a sharp right at the bottom, where riders encounter amazing changes in g-force. The ‘Corkscrew’ along with Laguna’s 10 other turns, are considered among some of MotoGP’s most demanding, and this added to its stunning setting in the oak-studded hills near to the scenic Monterey Bay makes it one of the most spectacular venues on the MotoGP calendar. Vermeulen and Capirossi will be joined at Laguna by AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies as a wildcard. Spies made his debut on a Suzuki GSV-R prototype MotoGP bike at Donington last month – when he deputised for the injured Capirossi – and will be looking to impress in front of his home fans. Spies will also be competing in the AMA Superbike race at Laguna on his Suzuki GSX-R, so he has a busy weekend ahead of him. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s three pronged attack will take to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions, followed by a further practice on the Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place in the afternoon to secure the all-important grid positions for Sunday’s 32-lap race that gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT). Chris Vermeulen: “We had a great result in Sachsenring and now I’m really looking forward to going to Laguna. I really like the track and have done well there in the last couple of years and will certainly be looking to try to take the next step up the podium from last year’s position. The bike worked very well there last year and if we can get on the pace early on then there is no reason why we can’t make that happen.” Loris Capirossi: “My arm is still quite sore and I am fed up with feeling in pain like this, but I will still give it everything I have got at Laguna. I know it will be tough, but that is what MotoGP is about. I need to start getting some good results to make up for the races I didn’t score in and here is a good place to start. I am sure I will be 100% by Brno, but I want to be at my best in America and I will certainly be trying my hardest!” Ben Spies: “I am really looking forward to this weekend. It will be awesome to ride the GP bike in front of all the American fans. I know it is going to be hard as these guys are pretty good and I have the added pressure of racing in the Superbike championship as well, but I will be going for it that’s for certain! I have got one race under my belt in MotoGP and I had a thorough test at Indianapolis that went really well, so now it is down to me to show what I can do!”

By Press Release