Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner bided his time in today’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Australian sitting behind pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo until the 22nd lap. Then came a move that was eerily similar yet totally different than the pass he put on Lorenzo a year ago. Once again, it came as the duo crested the hill that is turn one, but this year Stoner went to the inside instead of the outside. All at 170 mph. The result was the same: Game over.
From there Stoner – the only one of the top riders to choose the soft-compound rear Bridgestone – was able to maintain the lead, crossing the finish line 3.429 seconds ahead of Lorenzo, the championship leader content with stretching his points lead over Dani Pedrosa to 23 points, 205-182. Stoner is third with 173 points after his fourth win of the season and his third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Pedrosa stuck in behind Lorenzo at the start, but was passed by Stoner on the third lap. The Spaniard would keep the pair ahead of him honest early on before eventually fading to a lonely third, 7.6 seconds behind Stoner and 4.2 behind Lorenzo.
Ten seconds behind Pedrosa was the battle for fourth between Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. The pair was together for the duration – as they have been in most of this year’s GPs – but Dovizioso was able to keep his British teammate at bay, crossing the line just .177 of a second ahead.
Sixth place went to the persistent Nicky Hayden. The Marlboro Ducati rider started slow but kept plugging away, narrowing the gap to German Stefan Bradl until moving in for the kill on the run down to Rainey Curve on the 27th lap. With over five seconds to Crutchlow, Hayden couldn’t go any farther, but he’d matched his best finish of the season.
Bradl held on for seventh on the LCR Honda, well clear of San Carlo Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard moving up a spot late in the race when Valentino Rossi crashed his Ducati on the entrance to the Corkscrew.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the first CRT entry, the Spainard ending up ninth with Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati’s Karel Abraham rounding out the top 10 in his return to action from injury.
Colin Edwards rode the NGM Mobile Forward Racing BMW/Suter to 13th.
Texan Ben Spies saw his miserable year continue in the first of two home GPs in a row for the Americans. Spies was running fourth when he was highsided from his factory Yamaha M1 on the exit of the Corkscrew on the 22nd lap. He was lucky to escape injury as he surfed on his back on the bike before finally getting flipped off in the dirt. Spies started the race with a possibly broken heel after crashing yesterday in qualifying.
Spaniard Toni Elias only lasted a little over a lap before he crashed out in his first MotoGP race of the season, riding in place of the injured Hector Barbera on the Pramac Ducati.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
7. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART)
10. Karel Abraham (Ducati)