MotoGP Race Report: Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix
Stoner keeps title hopes alive with victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
After winning while taking a big gamble, it’s clear Casey Stoner isn’t going away quietly this MotoGP season. Reigning World Champion Stoner earned his fourth victory of 2012, winning the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, July 29 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Stoner rode his Repsol Honda to a 3.249-second victory over championship leader Jorge Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha.
The victory came after a calculated risk paid off for Stoner. He chose a softer-compound rear tire that provided more grip but less durability, while his rivals Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa chose a harder, more durable rear tire. Stoner passed Lorenzo on Lap 22 of the 32-lap race and managed his tire over the closing laps to pull away for victory.
“I was confident for the entire race that I had enough pace for the win; we just needed to make sure the tire would last until the end,” Stoner said. “When we got to the front, we put in some good laps and pulled some small advantage and just continued from there.”
The victory helped Stoner pull to within 32 points of Lorenzo in the standings as he tries to end his final season – Stoner announced his retirement in May – with a third world title.
Pedrosa finished third on a Repsol Honda. He is second in the World Championship, 23 points behind Lorenzo.
The next round of the MotoGP World Championship is the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 17-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
American riders had a mixed day in the hills of Northern California. Nicky Hayden finished a solid sixth on his Ducati Team machine just two days after the team announced it had re-signed him for the 2013 season. Colin Edwards continued to work through electronic problems on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW Claiming Rule Teams machine and finished 13th, tied for his second-best result of the season.
A mixture of bad luck and freak occurrences this season continued to plague Texan Ben Spies at Laguna. He crashed out of the race on Lap 22 when the rear swingarm broke on his factory Yamaha. Add that freak malfunction to a laundry list of odd problems this season for Spies – a broken sub-frame, broken helmet visor, rear tire that shed chunks of rubber and food poisoning.
Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was unhurt in a frightening crash with three laps to go. Rossi was braking for the entrance of the famous “Corkscrew” turn at Laguna when he lost the front end of his Ducati. Rossi and the bike cartwheeled into the gravel trap; Rossi was unhurt, but the GP12 bike was heavily damaged.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
CASEY STONER (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “It’s been a difficult weekend for us, in general, especially trying to make the hard tire work. So for the race, I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tire, keep a little more traction and not spin so much. At the beginning of the race, I tried to move to the front, but Dani (Pedrosa) and Jorge (Lorenzo) were riding very good lines, and it was impossible to get past. I decided to slow the lap times a little and try to save the tires until the end and then we could start to come back. I was confident for the entire race that I had enough pace for the win; we just needed to make sure the tire would last until the end. When we got to the front, we put in some good laps and pulled some small advantage and just continued from there.”
JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I tried my best at the beginning to open a gap, and I managed it, but then in the Corkscrew, I almost crashed. For Casey, maybe that was a motivation, and he caught me in one lap. After that, I couldn’t keep the pace I had in the beginning. Maybe the soft tire was the best option for this race. Without a doubt, Casey was riding in an excellent form today, and it wasn’t possible to beat him.”
DANI PEDROSA (Third, Repsol Honda Team): “I tried my best in this race, and third place was the maximum I could get this time. At the beginning, I was quite confident and calm when Casey (Stoner) passed me because I knew he was on the soft rear tire and this was the most risky choice for the race. But finally it worked out perfectly for him. I knew I also had a good pace, but when I caught Casey again and was ready to overtake him, I was on the throttle too fast, and I had too much momentum there. I almost found myself on the floor. I lost ground with the leaders, but when I started braking harder trying to close the gap again, I lost the front many times, and I was so close to not finish this race. Anyway, I'm satisfied because I kept pushing until the end, giving 100 percent, although today it wasn't enough. Anyway, we were riding the new bike for the first time here, and we took another podium. We know what we can improve to come back stronger in Indianapolis.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
NICKY HAYDEN (Sixth, Ducati Team): “The day got off to a rough start, as I crashed in the warm-up session when I didn’t have enough heat in the brakes. For the race, my bike was the best it’s been this weekend, and I got a good start. But then Bautista and I touched. I thought maybe I knocked my brake lever, so I was too careful in Turns 1 and 2. Then I got held up behind Bautista and lost a gap to that second group, which I spent most of the race trying to bridge. I got to Bradl, but the other guys were already gone, although I didn’t have the pace to run with them anyway. I was fighting the bike and running wide in the turns, but I pushed until the end. It’s frustrating to struggle so much all weekend at Laguna, and it’s not the way I wanted to go into the two-week break, but I think we can put up a better fight at Indy.”
COLIN EDWARDS (13th, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “Me, De Puniet and Espargaro were the only ones that have been here before. I expected the other CRT guys to have more trouble learning the track. We tried many different things, which made the bike seemed easier to ride. At the end of the day, our electronics are still at a developing stage, and it makes it hard because it cuts so much power. Right now we are at a point where it’s hard to make significant improvements. Let’s hope that what we have found here benefits us at Indy in a few weeks.”
BEN SPIES (Not classified, Yamaha Factory Racing): “We had a technical failure in the swingarm. I was feeling really good. I didn’t have the grip that I had in the earlier sessions with the harder tire, but in the last 10 laps, I was starting to pull away and I had a little left up my sleeve. We started to stretch out a lead over Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso). Then all of a sudden at the bottom of the Corkscrew, the bike went out from underneath me. I had no control. It didn’t slide or anything – just completely went. At first, I thought I’d hit a bump, but there isn’t one there. It’s nobody’s fault, but it’s more bad luck.”
Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 205, Dani Pedrosa 182, Casey Stoner 173, Andrea Dovizioso 121, Cal Crutchlow 106, Stefan Bradl 84, Nicky Hayden 84, Valentino Rossi 82, Alvaro Bautista 81, Ben Spies 66, Hector Barbera 60, Randy de Puniet 33, Aleix Espargaro 33, Michele Pirro 16, Mattia Pasini 13, James Ellison 12, Colin Edwards 11, Karel Abraham 10, Yonny Hernandez 10, Danilo Petrucci 9, Ivan Silva 7.
Manufacturers: Yamaha 221, Honda 221, Ducati 106, ART 48, FTR 16, BQR 13, Suter 11, Ioda 9, BQR-FTR 2.
2012 tickets: Tickets for the 2012 Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP event, scheduled for Aug. 17-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, are on sale now at www.imstix.com, by calling (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 or by visiting the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
Information on camping at IMS during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP is available at www.imstix.com. Hotel package information can be found at visitindy.com/redbull.