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GP Week : Issue 163
Will Lorenzo and Co allow an American winner? The US GP – unique in several respects – takes riders back in time, to a short, narrow and challenging course of a type hardly seen any more in Europe. The nearest thing is the Sachsenring, but Laguna adds bumps, barriers and the sensational Corkscrew plunge to make it even more technically difficult. Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden, both with intimate Laguna knowledge, will be hoping this might skew the odds in their favour. But it has been six years since the Laguna effect brought two consecutive victories to Hayden in 2005 and 2006. That was on a 990cc Honda; this year marks the return of one-litre bikes after five years of the finicky 800s. Both need it badly; each is riding to save his job. Spies is enduring a season of astonishing luck, with gremlins from a broken sub-frame to a leaking visor to severe food poisoning keeping him from the rostrum. “I like the track and our bike is good there,” he said, adding that last year ’s lack of acceleration was no longer a factor with the bigger engine. Hayden has been outqualifying team-mate Rossi, but seldom out-racing him. Ducati upgrades will strengthen his hand. “I need to get better than seventh places for Ducati to keep me on,” he said at Mugello. He can’t expect an easy ride. Stoner, the only other double winner in recent history, starts the second half of the season 37 points down on Lorenzo, and 18 on team-mate Pedrosa, each of whom has a single win at the Californian circuit. This is the eighth consecutive Red Bull GP in the current series, which revived an earlier series between 1988 and 1994 (omitting 1992), with all but one having a home-grown winner. Wayne Rainey won three times, Eddie Lawson, and John Kocinski once, with Italian Luca Cadalora the 1994 interloper. The first US GPs were at Daytona in 1964 and 1965, both won by Mike Hailwood on an MV Agusta. CORKSCREW BECKONS THE UNWARY MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » Veteran American road-racer Steve Rapp will make his grand prix debut at Laguna Seca next weekend – at the ripe old age of 40. Rapp, who was a late starter in racing, turning professional at 25. He will ride a Kawasaki- powered home-brewed chassis for the Attack team for whom he rides in the AMA series. Track knowledge might help overcome the bike’s fledgling state. » Danilo Petrucci rides the slowest CRT, the Ioda Aprilia, to impressive effect. The reward was to join Ducati factory tester Franco Battaini for two days at Mugello, endurance testing modifications for the factory riders. CRT rival James Ellison tweeted that his regular bike would “feel broken” at the next race. Petrucci responded that it had felt that way since February. » BMW has 'realigned' its approach (taken a step back from) World Superbikes after achieving success with its first wins this year, handing running of the factory team over to BMW Motorrad Italia. The Italian squad, currently running a satellite BMW team will be responsible for chassis development, but the factory will be “entirely responsible for the power train and electronics”, a statement read. The implications for a move to MotoGP remain to be seen. LATE NEWS: CRASH OUTS BARBERA A motocross training accident has left Pramac Ducati rider Hector Barbera with both tibia and fibula of his left leg broken, ruling him out of the next two GPs in the USA and possibly the Czech Republic round at Brno as well. The Spaniard, who claimed his first front row start at Mugello, was injured on Saturday and underwent surgery on Sunday, with a predicted recovery time of four to six weeks. Fellow satellite Ducati rider Karel Abraham will be back at Laguna, after missing the last two rounds. 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: