2012 United States GP (Laguna Seca): Honda MotoGP Race Recap
CASEY STONER TAMES THE CORKSCREW
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner heads into the summer break on a high after winning his fourth race of the year by making a wise tyre choice on a sunny day at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) third and on the podium for the sixth race in a row, equalling his longest sequence of successive podiums in MotoGP.
The win was Stoner's second in a row and third overall at the tortuous circuit within sight of the Pacific Ocean east of Monterey, California, making him the winningest rider at the track.
And it also allowed him to take five points out of the championship lead of Lorenzo. Stoner, who will spend his summer break traveling around the U.S. with his family, now has 173 points to 182 for Pedrosa and 205 for Lorenzo.
The summer break arrives with Honda tied for the Constructor's Championship lead, and Repsol Honda holding an 84 point lead in the Team's Championship.
The grand prix played out in a fashion very similar to last year's race. Lorenzo got out to an early lead in front of Pedrosa, with Stoner taking second from his team-mate on the third of 32 laps of the 3.61Km, 11-turn circuit. Stoner was one of the few prototype riders to use the soft, rather than the medium rear tyre, and that would prove the key to victory.
Stoner stalked Lorenzo for more than half the race before setting up his pass. As he had done last year, he made pass in turn 1, more of a kink than a turn, a left taken in sixth gear leaned over. The difference was that this year he went up the inside, last year it was the outside and five laps sooner, on lap 22 rather than lap 27.
Lorenzo tried to stay with Stoner, and did for a number of laps, but in the later stages Stoner pulled away to a definitive victory.
The margin of victory was 3.429s.
Pedrosa was another 4.204s back in third, but on the podium again; he has only been off it once this year at the French GP.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished seventh in his first race at the circuit that allows no rest. Bradl lost the battle for sixth to Nicky Hayden, the American Ducati rider who has more experience at the track than any other rider. That Bradl was able to be competitive in his first race was impressive.
His confidence was stronger early in the race with a full fuel load. Later, when the level went down and the weight came off the front, he developed a front end chatter that caused him to slow.
Bradl heads into the summer break with a gaping lead over Michele Pirro, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider whose day was less successful.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) had a lonely ride to ninth. Bautista had crashed in the morning, and he had crashed earlier in the weekend. On his previous two visits to the track, on a different brand, he had crashed in the race. It was important for him to finish and go into the summer break with some confidence.
Team-mate Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR
Honda) did not make it past the second corner in his first visit to Laguna Seca. The Italian MotoGP rookie was run off the track by another rider in the Andretti Hairpin left turn and crashed. It was his third DNF in a row, none through his own fault.
The series now goes into the summer break, a gap of two weekends before the 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship on August 17-19.
MotoGP Rider Quotes
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: Race winner
"It's been a difficult weekend for us in general, especially trying to make the hard tyre work. So for the race I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tyre, 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 and Jorge 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 tyres 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 tyre 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. I'm very, very happy and a big thanks to all the team."
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd
"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 passed me, because I knew he was on the soft rear tyre 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 one hundred percent, although today it wasn't enough. A small mistake it's just enough to not finish in front. 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."
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 7th
"Actually it was a positive debut for us in Laguna. I am quite happy about this seventh place. In general it was a pretty difficult weekend for us, because we mainly started to work on the bike Saturday afternoon as on Friday I had to learn the track. Basically in the beginning of the race I was quite comfortable on the bike, because we had full fuel on board, but after ten laps I started to lose confidence compared to Dovi (Dovizioso) and (Cal) Crutchlow due to the front end issues that we already had yesterday. From that moment it was too dangerous for me entering the corners with the same speed. Then I tried to keep Nicky (Hayden) behind me, but I could see he was faster than me. I think we have done our best and we keep this experience for next season."
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 9th "I'm not sure why, but today the bike felt really unstable on the front. Maybe we made the wrong decision by going with the soft tyre. I tried to push it at the start, but I couldn't brake hard and I was really struggling in corner entry. It's strange, because we had good race pace with this tyre yesterday, but today it didn't work. It hasn't been a good weekend for us. Despite the positive signs yesterday it proved to be a difficult race today."
Michele Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: DNF "They say things come in threes and unfortunately that is the case for me today with my third DNF in a row - this time after contact with (Randy) De Puniet in the first corner. It is unfortunate, but I don't want to be negative about it and I am sure that better times are ahead for me and the guys in the team."
RACE: (32 laps = 115.52 Km)
POS / RIDER / NAT. / TEAM / MOTORCYCLE / TIME / KM/H / GAP
1 / Casey STONER / AUS / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 43'45.961 / 158.369 /
2 / Jorge LORENZO / SPA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 43'49.390 /
158.162 / 3.429
3 / Dani PEDROSA / SPA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 43'53.594 / 157.91 /
4 / Andrea DOVIZIOSO / ITA / Monster Yamaha Tech
3 / YAMAHA / 44'04.563 / 157.255 / 18.602
5 / Cal CRUTCHLOW / GBR / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / YAMAHA / 44'04.740 /
157.244 / 18.779
6 / Nicky HAYDEN / USA / Ducati Team / DUCATI / 44'12.863 / 156.763 / 26.902
7 / Stefan BRADL / GER / LCR Honda MotoGP / HONDA / 44'14.354 / 156.675 /
8 / Alvaro BAUTISTA / SPA / San Carlo Honda Gresini / HONDA / 44'36.207 /
155.396 / 50.246
9 / Aleix ESPARGARO / SPA / Power Electronics Aspar / ART / 45'04.954 /
153.744 / 1'18.993
10 / Karel ABRAHAM / CZE / Cardion AB Motoracing / DUCATI / 45'08.037 /
153.569 / 1'22.076
11 / Randy DE PUNIET / FRA / Power Electronics Aspar / ART / 43'47.392 /
153.336 / 1 lap
12 / Yonny HERNANDEZ / COL / Avintia Blusens / BQR / 43'55.108 / 152.887 / 1
13 / Colin EDWARDS / USA / NGM Mobile Forward Racing / SUTER / 44'17.426 /
151.603 / 1 lap
14 / Ivan SILVA / SPA / Avintia Blusens / BQR / 44'20.627 / 151.421 / 1 lap
Pole Position: Jorge LORENZO 1'20.554 161.332 Km/h Fastest Lap (New record):
Dani PEDROSA 1'21.229 159.992 Km/h Lap 5 Old Circuit Record Lap: Casey
STONER 1'21.376 159.703 Km/h 2010 Circuit Best Lap: Jorge LORENZO 1'20.554
161.332 Km/h 2012
CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS TO DATE:
1 LORENZO 205, 2 PEDROSA 182, 3 STONER 173, 4 DOVIZIOSO 121,
5 CRUTCHLOW 106, 6 BRADL 84, 7 HAYDEN 84, 8 ROSSI 82, 9 BAUTISTA 81,
10 SPIES 66, 11 BARBERA 60, 12 DE PUNIET 33, 13 ESPARGARO 33,
14 PIRRO 16, 15 PASINI 13.