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GP Week : Issue 164
37 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: C asey Stoner reversed the tide of his last two bad races to take his second win in a row at the tight and quirky Laguna Circuit, with an equally quirky tyre choice that paid big dividends. For a second year in a row the Repsol Honda rider tailed pole starter Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), then pounced at the daunting first corner. Last year it was a daring round-the-outside swoop; this year he made it look easier with a faster run down the short pit straight to ease ahead on the inside line. “It was fairly calculated,” said the triumphant Australian, after grabbing the gold medal for the fourth time this year, gambling on the softer rear tyre option when all other factory riders went for the harder. They feared the fast drop-off in grip from the soft in warm conditions, with a capacity crowd of more than 52,000 enjoying bright Californian sunshine. “I knew the hard struggled a bit, and at the last races I couldn’t get it working. With the soft I had to be gentle. It wouldn’t last if you were pushing and spinning all race,” said Stoner. “The plan was to get a good start and get a gap.” But he’d been consigned to third behind Lorenzo and his Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa into the first corner. On the third of 32 giddy laps of MotoGP’s shortest circuit he was second, then he stalked Lorenzo until the start of lap 22. “I sat back, tried to cool the tyres, then picked up the pace when I got some more grip out of them. It was nice to do something different from everyone else.” The three had pulled rapidly clear, although Pedrosa lost touch with a big slide just before half distance. “I tried to catch up again but I kept losing the front – I was lucky not to crash,” he said. Lorenzo, whose points lead was only slightly dented, was a gracious second.”I knew Casey was coming stronger every lap. The hard tyre usually comes better in the middle of the race, but today was the opposite. But Casey was the best, the most constant. It was not my day.” Ben Spies, limping with a suspected heel fracture after a heavy crash in qualifying, had managed to escape from a fierce and growing battle for fourth when he crashed violently again at the Corkscrew, with a worrying mechanical failure that locked the rear wheel. “The swing-arm broke,” he said. “It’s lucky it didn’t happen at Turn One or going up to the Corkscrew” (see separate story). He had led the Monster Yamaha pair Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) inches behind. By the finish the two satellite Yamahas were still inches apart, Dovizioso fending off Crutchlow’s constant pressure from the MOTOGP >>> LAGUNA SECA