by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 20
D EFENDING World Champion Casey Stoner finished the US GP fuming. He also finished second, after coming off worse after a sustained battle with Valentino Rossi in which they changed places sometimes four times a lap. The pair had been inches apart for the first 23 of 32 laps of the short and tortuous Laguna Seca circuit inland of Monterey. Then Stoner got too close under braking for the last corner, and ran wide as he took avoiding action. Disastrously, he slipped off at slow speed as he ran through the gravel. The pair was so far ahead that he was able to remount and still stay second. But, as the Italian Fiat Yamaha rider beamed about his first victory in America and race fan Tom Cruise leaned over the Parc Ferme barrier, Stoner was already complaining. “The mistake was my own, and I enjoyed most of the race. But I’ve been racing for many years, but for me some passes went past the point. I was disappointed by the way he was riding. I frigging nearly went into the gravel so many times. I’d have preferred a bit of a cleaner battle,” he said. Rossi’s response was devil-may-care: “That’s racing. Every overtake was very clear for me. We never touched. I was stronger in braking, so I tried to use that to my advantage. For me it was fun, like old- style racing.” Stoner had made practice his own, but Rossi qualified second – all he needed to be able to go with the flying red Ducati from the green light. Halfway round the first lap, as they dived into the Corkscrew, he forced past on the inside, and he led over the line from then on. Under the most severe pressure. Stoner’s bike was faster up the hill and down the straight, and time and again he would pull alongside. But Rossi’s defence was sound, forcing him to take the long way round, and though they changed places several times he always fought straight back into the lead. One crucial moment came after Stoner had slipped past on the run to the Corkscrew on lap four – his second pass that lap. Rossi ran wide on the left-hand entry, over the kerb and across the gravel on the apex of the following right, and rejoined the track ahead of Stoner, almost taking out his front wheel. Tyres were crucial, and Bridgestone on top, with Chris Vermeulen (inset, below) bringing the Rizla Suzuki through to third, his second rostrum in succession, and his second at Laguna. He was 26 seconds behind Rossi, whose race average was an amazing 16 seconds faster than last year. All the Michelin runners in some kind of trouble after the French company brought the wrong set of compounds for cooler conditions than expected. Best of them was Andrea Dovizioso in fourth, also top Honda, after battling with and finally outpacing Nicky Hayden’s factory Repsol Honda on his satellite machine. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) had been with them, and was sixth. James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) held a brawling pack at bay for most of the race, but stricken by the Michelin curse was unable to prevent wild card Ben Spies (Rizla Suzuki) and Toni Elias (Alice Ducati), both on Bridgestones, from passing three laps from the end. On the last lap, Elias snatched seventh from double AMA champion Spies. Tenth-placed Shinya Nakano (San Carlos Honda) dropped out of this gang by the finish, still well clear of Kawasaki replacement rider Jamie Hacking, who had spent much of the race in Spies’s wheeltracks. Jorge Lorenzo missed the party after yet another high looping high-side on the first lap, landing heavily again on his left ankle; Colin Edwards donned special US livery but had a disastrous race on his Michelins, dropping to 14th. M oto GP USA >> 37