It’s Laguna Seca Time!

Press Release | June 30, 2009

The following is from Yamaha…The Fiat Yamaha Team arrives in the United States this week in stunning form with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo lying first and second in the championship, separated by just five points. Rossi, who clinched his 100th career victory in Assen on Sunday, has three wins to his name so far and Lorenzo has two, while both riders have finished on the podium in six out of seven races this season to leave Fiat Yamaha leading the Teams’ standings and Yamaha the Manufacturers’. The Italian and the Spaniard will make a short stopover in Los Angeles for a visit to Yamaha US on Wednesday before heading north to the coastal town of Monterey and the spectacular Laguna Seca track.Before last year Rossi had just one podium to his name at Laguna since MotoGP returned there in 2005, but he produced one of the performances of his career in 2008 to win an important victory, which went on to prove one of the key turning points of his season. A race-long battle with Casey Stoner threw up some nail-biting moments between the pair but the Italian prevailed to take his first win on American soil. After two wins on the bounce he is heading stateside in flying form and will be hoping to extend his championship lead this weekend with another great result. Thursday sees the now traditional Laguna Seca Superkart race and Rossi this year will make a few display laps in a Superkart before Yamaha legends Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and Kenny Roberts Senior take centre stage for the real thing.Lorenzo was a Laguna Seca first-timer last year and a promising showing during practice came to nothing when he high-sided on the first lap. The 22-year-old went on to taste American success later in the season with a podium in Indianapolis and he is determined that he will get to grips with the tricky Laguna track this time around. The youngster has had a brilliant season to date and will undoubtedly be in the mix once again this weekend as he seeks to better his team-mate with a return to the top of the podium.Laguna Seca is an all-American track where the intense dry heat, unpredictable asphalt and anti-clockwise layout reward the loose and aggressive riding style of the US dirt-trackers. The track boasts some of the most dramatic elevation changes on the world championship circuit as well as fast, sweeping corners, the most notorious of which is 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 – “Back to normal!”

“The wonderful memory of the 100th win is still fresh, but now we have just a few days to recover before the next race, which is hard for everyone. We have to try to relax as much as possible and recharge the batteries a little, because Laguna is always a tough weekend and often very hot. Last year I had a great battle with Stoner and for me it was for sure one of the turning points of the championship and a very important win; I have some good memories. I think this year it will be hard again because Lorenzo is in brilliant form and I am sure Stoner will also be back to his best. Laguna is a great place to race and an exciting track, I also have a little trip to Los Angeles and Yamaha US first which I am looking forward to. The championship is very open at this point so we need to keep focus, get back to normal after Assen and try to get another good result this weekend.”Jorge Lorenzo – “Looking forward to the challenge”

“Last year Laguna wasn’t good for me but I don’t think about this. It’s the only time I’ve been there but I don’t see that as a problem – until 2008 I’d never won in Portugal before and I won my first race there in MotoGP, and then again this year I won in Motegi where I’d never won before, so I don’t consider any track ‘bad’ for me – the past doesn’t matter. We are feeling very strong after the last races and everyone is very motivated to continue in the same way so I am looking forward to the challenge and learning more about the track. I will do my best and hopefully that will mean we can run at the front again.”Davide Brivio – “Focus on the championship”

“We still have great memories from Laguna Seca in 2008 and we’re happy to be arriving there after two wins and leading the championship. It’s a great place to race and the American fans are always brilliant so we hope we can give them another good show! Our package is working well everywhere now so hopefully the case will be the same again this weekend. Now that the 100 target has been reached we can focus on the next target – the championship! Now we race for that.”Daniele Romagnoli – “A consistent package”

“After the last great race in Assen this is a very short break for everyone but we have to move straight on to the US for the next round! The high motivation in our team continues after another strong performance from Jorge and we are looking forward to having the chance for another good result. This year our package is much more consistent and we know that we can put up another good fight, despite Jorge’s inexperience at Laguna. Everyone in the team enjoys going to Laguna – it’s a great place – so we’re looking forward to another exciting weekend.”The following is from Repsol Honda…The Laguna Seca circuit hosts the US Grand Prix this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship moves from Europe to North America for round eight of the 17-race series. The Repsol Honda Team arrives at the California track ready to bounce back immediately after the tough luck the team experienced in the Netherlands. Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa lie in fourth and fifth in the title race and will be determined to take a strong points haul after drawing a blank at Assen.Dovizioso put in an attention-grabbing ride last year at Laguna Seca in his debut season in MotoGP. The Italian charged to a strong fourth place and was the lead Honda rider for the satellite JiR Team Scot – all the more impressive considering this was his first visit to the tricky circuit. (The 125cc and 250cc GP classes in which Dovizioso rode prior to the 2008 season don’t feature in this round of the championship). In 2009 the 23-year-old has been constantly knocking on the door of a podium finish and, with an extra year’s experience to draw on at Laguna combined with the recent improvements to the chassis of the RC212V, he has every chance of fighting for a top-three finish come Sunday’s race.Dani Pedrosa will be looking to maintain the pace that enabled him to secure second place on the grid and run at the front at the previous round in Assen. The 23-year-old Spaniard, who holds fifth in the World Championship in spite of some terrible luck in the first part of the season, looked to be back on form at the last race, and he too will aim to make full use of his Honda RC212V’s modified chassis to close in on his rivals this weekend. Pedrosa didn’t race at Laguna last year because of injury. He will be looking to steer clear of trouble and rejoin battle at the head of the field this time around.The Laguna Seca circuit, at just 3.610km (2.243 miles) in length, is one of the shortest and yet most dramatic venues on the MotoGP calendar. Characterised by stark elevation changes, flowing corners and short straights, it features the famous Corkscrew corner – a plunging left-right chicane that is as complex to get right as it is spectacular to observe. Both the Repsol Honda riders appreciate the challenge and atmosphere at Laguna and are relishing the chance to tackle the track once more this weekend.The action begins at 13.55 on Friday with an hour of free practice, followed by another practice session and qualifying on Saturday, before Sunday’s 32-lap race gets under way at 14.00. (All times GMT – 7 hours.)ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – World Championship position: 4th, 69 points

“I really look forward to the race in Laguna Seca. The track itself and the whole atmosphere makes coming to Laguna a fascinating experience. Last year was the first time that I had raced in the United States and I was impressed by this track. Some parts are quite dangerous and very different from the European standard of racetracks we are used to, but the whole atmosphere is incredible and I like it a lot. I’m confident that we can have a good race here. Last year I had a good battle and finished 4th, which I was pleased with. I feel as though I’ve come fourth enough times this year though, so I hope to make the step up. At each race we’re getting closer to the leading riders but we’re still not close enough yet. So we need to work hard to get the speed and consistency we need.”DANI PEDROSA – World Championship position: 5th, 67 points

“I’m actually really looking forward to getting to Laguna and I’m feeling confident going into the weekend – as I was before Assen. The result there wasn’t great, but there’s no reason why we can’t have a strong race in the US. I felt much better on the bike in Assen than I did in Barcelona and, although my physical fitness is not at 100 per cent because I haven’t been training as usual for quite a while, the injury is getting better and isn’t giving me any problems on the machine. The Laguna track itself is unique and it can be a lot of fun to ride – as long as you’re going quickly. When you’re struggling it obviously isn’t quite as much fun! As a team we’ve got to continue working hard and bring the whole machine package up to a level where we can compete for wins again. We’re making progress and with luck Laguna will take us closer to that target.”The following is from Suzuki…Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen is looking to make it three podiums in a row at Laguna Seca this weekend as the team travels to America for the US GP.Vermeulen heads to a track where he has enjoyed the most success in his MotoGP career – a pole position during his American Grand Prix debut at the circuit in 2006 should have been followed by at least a podium on race day, but bad luck intervened as he finished fifth. In 2007 and 2008 Vermeulen made up for that by scoring successive podiums and showing that he has become something of a Laguna Seca specialist. He will certainly be aiming to repeat – or better – last year’s third place as he aims to improve on the progress he showed at Assen last weekend.Loris Capirossi will be determined to show the American fans what he is capable of on a Suzuki after having to battle against injury at Laguna last year and never really getting comfortable on the 3,610m track. Capirossi was cruelly robbed of a hard fought sixth place last time out in the Netherlands after another rider forced him into the gravel on the last corner and will be eager to put that behind him as he continues to make improvements to the Suzuki GSV-R.The Laguna Seca circuit is situated on the Monterey Peninsula about 160kms south of San Francisco. The track was built on a dried up lake within a field artillery target range and manoeuvre area belonging to the US Army and today it is part of the Monterey County Parks Department. The track features one of the most incredible turns on any racetrack in the world. The famous ‘Corkscrew’: a left and right hand combination with a huge drop in elevation, where the riders feel like they are falling off the end of a cliff after reaching the turn by a blind crest on an uphill approach. It certainly is the focal point on the circuit and a place where lots of exciting action happens.The US GP weekend takes on an added degree of excitement this weekend as it falls in-line with American Independence day celebrations on July 4th, so the fans at trackside will all be in a party spirit as MotoGP rolls into town.Rizla Suzuki has two hour-long practice sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, followed by an hour of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s race is round eight on the MotoGP calendar and the excitement will get underway for the 32-lap race at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).Chris Vermeulen:

“I’m really looking forward to Laguna Seca, it’s certainly one of my favourite circuits and I’ve been on the podium there for the last two years, as well as a pole position in 2006. I certainly want to try and repeat those performances and get the Suzuki on the podium for the first time in 2009. I hope it is a good race for all the fans and that the weather is as nice as it usually is. I am sure we can be competitive from day one and put on a good show.”Loris Capirossi:

“I wasn’t at full strength at Laguna last year following my crash at Assen and all the changes in direction really made it a painful race for me. This year I am going there fully fit and the bike seems to be improving every time I ride it, so we are hoping to be right up amongst the front guys this weekend. The season still has a long way to go and I am now in-touch with the top-five in the championship and that certainly has to be our target – to break into that group and go from strength-to-strength at every race.”The following is from Ducati…One of the most eagerly-anticipated and important events on the MotoGP calendar for Ducati and its riders arrives this weekend, with the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. It is one of two home races for Nicky Hayden and the scene of his debut victory in motorcycle racing’s elite competition, which came in 2005 and was followed up by identical success on his way to the world title in 2006. Casey Stoner picked up the baton with victory in 2007 and the Australian was one half of an epic battle with Valentino Rossi last year. The pair fought elbow to elbow around the rollercoaster circuit but the fans were denied a grandstand finale when Stoner ran off track and crashed, returning to claim second place, such was the gap they had built up over the rest of the field.Whilst the Ducati MotoGP Team riders both have great pedigree at the Californian circuit, the event also has special significance for the Borgo Panigale factory, with the US market one of their most important. On the opposite side of the Atlantic to its home, the Ducati brand has become a symbol of quality, high technology and exclusivity – the distinctive characteristics of a product bearing the “Made in Italy” stamp.Determination, dedication and hard work are the hallmarks of the Ducati MotoGP Team, which is ready to give full support to its two riders as they prepare to tackle the next challenge. Hayden is desperate to perform in front of his home fans and following a gritty and combative performance in Holland he is looking to continue with the progress he has made over the last few weeks. Stoner, meanwhile, is hoping to overcome the physical problems that have prevented him from challenging for victory in the last two races at Assen and Catalunya, although on both occasions he was able to stay in the championship hunt thanks to podium finishes achieved with the hard work and support of his team.LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director

“It is always great to race at Laguna and particularly so this year, with Nicky in our team! We’ll do everything we can to make sure Casey is in the best physical condition possible and to give Nicky the opportunity to ride at the level we all know he is capable of at his favourite circuits, where he has scored two wonderful victories in the past. The bike is improving all the time and we’re confident we can do well with both our riders this weekend.”CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team (3rd in the championship on 122 points)

“We have had some setbacks over the past couple of races that have prevented us from showing our full potential. We have done a lot of work on the bike and found a great set-up for the race on both occasions but I have not been in good shape when it was the moment to take advantage of that work. We have come straight to America from Assen and there hasn’t been much time to recover, although I do feel better already. What we learned from last weekend is not to underestimate the symptoms. I have always liked Laguna, with its natural elevation changes, I love racing in America and the Ducati has always gone well here. We have the potential to challenge for a good result again but we’ll wait until we get out on track and see how things shape up.”NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team (15th in the championship on 26 points)

“We still have a lot of work to do but it has been nice to see a little progress over the last few weeks and at Laguna I really need to take another big step. I don’t have any big plan or anything – it’s not that easy! All I know to do is keep trying and working at it and hope it will come. Laguna is a great track and very challenging. There are a few points that stick out but in general it is different to most tracks, which usually have a few different sections, whereas Laguna is basically just one section and you have to put it all together to make a good lap. This year we’re racing in America on the 4th of July weekend and it’s perfect – I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than at the US Grand Prix! Also the fact my brothers will be racing on the same weekend in the AMA championship helps make it special for me. This will be the first time my American fans get to see me on a Ducati so that will be cool because there are a lot of strong Ducati fans in the states. No predictions or anything but we’ll go full gas and see what happens.”THE TRACK

Laguna Seca played host to the US Grand Prix on six occasions between 1988 and 1994 before being removed from the calendar. A series of major structural improvements to the facility saw the World Championship return in 2005, although only for the MotoGP class. The track, which flows around the undulating hills on the outskirts of Monterey, is most famous for the Corkscrew, a tight and spectacular left-right downhill chicane. In fact, the entire circuit is a rollercoaster ride, with a few short straights and a series of fast corners and elevation changes that often leave the front wheel pawing at the air. The 3.610km track is the perfect amphitheatre for the fans and is surprisingly straightforward in terms of machine set-up, with little opportunity to maximise full throttle. Frequent downhill braking zones put extra stress on the front end and make tyre wear a crucial factor.

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