The following is from Yamaha…The Fiat Yamaha Team flies west today for the first North American stop of the season, at Laguna Seca in California. With Jorge Lorenzo leading the championship and Valentino Rossi back in action after six weeks out through injury, the team is in high spirits and looking forward to what is always a favourite race for all involved.Barcelona-based Lorenzo has won five races this season and come second in the remaining three so he arrives in the States as the man everyone wants to beat, with a 47-point lead over Dani Pedrosa in the championship. His first visit to Laguna Seca in 2008 saw him fail to finish but last year he put in a brilliant performance whilst struggling with a shoulder injury to storm home in third behind his team-mate and he is hoping for another visit to the podium, at the very least, this time around. On route to Monterey Lorenzo and Tech 3 Yamaha colleague Ben Spies will make a stop at the home of American talk-show host Jay Leno, where they will be shown round the star’s world-famous garage, which houses a incredible collection of over 200 cars and motorcycles.When he broke his leg just a little over six weeks ago it was not expected that nine-time World Champion Rossi would be seen on track before Brno at the earliest, but the irrepressible superstar has surprised everyone yet again with a return to racing last weekend and a competitive one at that, missing out on a podium by just two tenths of a second. While not yet back to his best the Italian hopes to be stronger again this weekend and feels ready to face the demands of the spectacular circuit. He finished second last year but the memory of his incredible win there in 2008, which he still cites as one of his best ever races, is never far from the minds of his fans.Laguna Seca sits on the side of a hill just outside the coastal town of Monterey, a couple of hours south of San Francisco. The sometimes intense dry heat, unpredictable asphalt and anti-clockwise layout provide a break from the norm and the riders are forced to adapt their style somewhat after a summer on the fast and wide European tracks. The track boasts some of the most spectacular elevation changes and dramatic corners on the world championship circuit, the most notorious of which is the infamous ‘corkscrew.’Jorge Lorenzo – “Always aiming for the podium”
“This is the first time this season that we’ve left Europe and I’m excited to be going to Laguna Seca again, one of the most famous tracks in the world. I like riding there and one of my aims is to win there, some day! I have had some crashes there but last year I also took the pole and made it onto the podium. We come from a second place in Sachsenring and our target remains the same, to be consistent and to always aim for the podium. Before the race we will go to see Jay Leno and also I will hopefully visit the headquarters of Twitter in LA.”Valentino Rossi – “Try to improve a little bit more”
“I was so happy to be back in Sachsenring and to be fighting for the podium, even though I just missed out, was more than we could have hoped for. I still have some pain in my leg but I am growing stronger every day and I hope this week that I will be in better shape once again and I can try to improve a little bit more. Laguna is different to anywhere else we go but it’s always great fun to ride there and the last two years I’ve had great races.”Wilco Zeelenberg – “Feeling confident”
“This is the ninth race of the season and we have won or been second in every one so far so we come to America feeling confident. Laguna is a different track to anywhere else we go with different demands on both bike and rider, but Jorge seems to be able to cope with everything he comes to this season so we have no reason not to hope for another good weekend. We have a comfortable cushion in the championship and we will try to keep it that way by continuing to get on the podium each week.”Davide Brivio – “You never know what will happen!”
“We are arriving in the US after an incredibly exciting weekend in Sachsenring, when we not only enjoyed having Valentino back but also got to see him ride an amazing race so soon after his injury. You never know what will happen with him! Our target this time is the podium, so we will work with this in mind. We also need to try to improve some areas of our bike because our plan is to have a really good end of the season when he’s back to full fitness.”The following is from Ducati…The USGP is without doubt one of the biggest dates on the calendar for Ducati and its two riders. For Nicky Hayden the Laguna Seca circuit is one of two home races this season, as well as being the scene of his first ever MotoGP win in 2005 – a success he repeated in 2006 on his way to the world title.It is also one of Casey Stoner’s favourite dates on the calendar, thanks largely to the nature of the circuit – an old-style layout that follows the natural undulations of the land as opposed to the computer-designed modern tracks. The Australian, who travels to America on the back of three consecutive podiums, took victory in California in 2007 and finished second the following year.
CASEY STONER, Ducati Team
“Laguna is a circuit I have always liked because it’s tough but great fun and it follows the natural undulations and direction changes of the land. I also enjoy the raucous but respectful atmosphere that the American fans provide. Naturally I am looking for a good result but I don’t want to make any predictions because recently we have been close to the front without managing to finish with the result we want. We’re not far off – we just need a little more grip, stability under braking and handling, which would give us the extra tenth or two we’re missing. It is not much but at the level we’re at it will be noticeable. We’ll see what happens but the objective is to improve on what we have done so far.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
“I can’t wait to get to Laguna, a circuit that is extremely special to me. It is tough but really nice and it is where I won my first GP. I’m not just saying it because I’m American but it really is a unique place. There isn’t really a straight – all the corners run into each other and they are a mixture of fast and slow bends. The Corkscrew is unique, a three-storey drop with a blind entry – you feel like you’re taking off into space. Another thing about Laguna is that you can’t afford to run off line at any point because the exit to one corner is the entry to the next and you have to get your line right. At Sachsenring we had a tough weekend but recovered in the race and found a good feeling for the bike. That makes me confident for this weekend.”VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“I can’t wait to get to Laguna Seca, a fascinating circuit where both Casey and Nicky have won in the past. Obviously the level of the championship is very high and it is particularly difficult to get a top result at the moment but the team has been working well and we are making constant improvements with the set-up of our bikes. Both riders have a good feeling with them at the moment, especially with the front-end, which is important at Laguna. This is Nicky’s home race, which will give him another boost, whilst Casey comes on the back of three podiums and determined to improve so I’m sure both riders can do well on Sunday.”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.Laguna Seca will mark the half-way point of the season.The following is from Honda… Without pause, the Motorcycle World Championships leave Europe to hold the United States Grand Prix this weekend, in Laguna Seca where, as usual, only the premier-class riders will compete. Dani Pedrosa touches down at the venue where last year he took the win and he arrives in enviable form having won last weekend in a masterly fashion at the Sachsenring, adding to the good results clocked up over the past weeks. For Dovizioso, the American meeting will be an opportunity to return to the leading positions.Since returning to the Continental Circus calendar in 2005, the Laguna Seca Circuit has become a very special event for the Repsol riders, at which they have achieved 3 wins (2005, 2006, 2009), there have also, however, been difficult times, such as in 2007 and 2008. With morale high after the win for Dani Pedrosa in Germany, the Repsol rider comes to the uncharacteristic North American circuit as one of the main contenders for victory. In unbeatable form, the Repsol rider has achieved, through tenacity and hard work, alongside the rest of the Repsol Honda Team, the consistency which was missing at the start of the season.
A consistency which brought Andrea Dovizioso close to the top positions and which, in the last two events, has failed him. The Italian rider was fighting for the win in Catalunya until ten laps from the end, when a fall deprived him even of a much-deserved podium place. After his fifth place at the Sachsenring, Dovizioso arrives at the Californian circuit focused on the objective of regaining his best performance and with the conviction of doing battle with the front runners.Dani PEDROSA”To take the win in Germany was fantastic and it means we’re going into this weekend at Laguna Seca in great shape. I think the race will be very similar to the last one, with laptimes very close, and I hope we have a repeat of the way we worked in Germany. The key point in Sachsenring was that we were competitive and fast from the first practice on Friday. When everything is in place like this we have the level to compete with any of our rivals and to beat them – and that’s what I want to achieve again. We had a great race in Laguna Seca last year and we were able to win, so I would love to go on holiday after this weekend with another victory under our belts.
I know we have to work very hard to make it happen because Lorenzo is not making many mistakes, Stoner is back to his best level, and Rossi has returned very strong – and I’m sure that in the States he will be even better than in Germany. But we can be up there again if we push hard. We started the season not being able to fight with the riders in front, but now we have got to the required level to do this. Of course, we must keep our feet on the ground and not relax at all”.
“Now we go straight to Laguna Seca after Germany and I’m really looking forward to racing there – because it’s a unique track – and also because I want to improve on my result from the last race in Germany. We are completely focused on getting a strong finish this weekend before we head into the MotoGP summer break. Last year I was fast at Laguna and I was having a great race until unfortunately I clipped the plastic poles at the exit of pitlane at high speed and it damaged my clutch lever, which later contributed to my crash.
Until that point I was fighting with Valentino and it could have been a good race. But still, this means I’m confident going into the weekend and I know we can be strong at this Grand Prix. Dani won the race here last year – and also the last race in Germany on Sunday – and this gives us extra motivation too. The Laguna track is special – very different from the standard of tracks we are used to in Europe, and for this reason it is interesting to race here. I really like the atmosphere, the people and the fans and it’s always a pleasure to come to California”.