MotoGP: Stoner storms to victory in close-fought Laguna Seca race

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MotoGP Press Release:

At this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in Laguna Seca it was Casey Stoner who recorded a hard-fought victory ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, after reaping the benefits of gambling with the softer rear tire.

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It was Yamaha’s Lorenzo who took the hole-shot into the tricky turn one, with Honda’s Pedrosa and Stoner in tow. Stoner was the only one of the front-runners to have started on the softer option rear tire, with the two Spaniards opting for the harder spec. Honda’s Michele Pirro was an early crasher in the first turn, while Toni Elías crashed out a lap later.

On lap two Stoner was finding his pace and made his way past Pedrosa as he started to chase down Lorenzo at the front. As Lorenzo was keeping the Repsol pair honest, Yamaha’s Ben Spies was heading up a group in fourth including the Yamaha duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Stefan Bradl. With 22 laps reaming Crutchlow was all over the back of the rear wheel of Dovizioso, as the pair continued their season-long tussle. Back at the front Lorenzo was having to continuously hold off Stoner, who was all over the back of the Spaniard looking for a way past, as Pedrosa seemed content to look on in third. A lap later, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden was finding his stride in eighth, as he made up headway to the front with Valentino Rossi in tow.

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As the leading trio were heading into lap 13, Pedrosa had a huge wobble before the final turn, which he was just about able to save. This did however drop him back around a second from Stoner. On the same lap, Mattia Pasini was forced to retire with a mechanical issue. With 14 laps reaming Lorenzo had a slight moment going into the corkscrew, as Stoner looked to be chipping away at his lead once more. A lap later Danilo retired with a technical issue, while James Ellison crashed out a short while later. 11 laps from the end Stoner had caught up to Lorenzo and put in a move going into turn one, just as he had done last year, to take the lead. It was not a good lap for Yamaha, as Spies crashed out of the race awkwardly whilst accelerating out of the corkscrew, due to a technical fault with his swingarm.

Stoner and Lorenzo were in a league at their own at the front, and with nine laps left were already starting to lap some of the back markers. On the same lap Dovizioso had fought his way back past Crutchlow, as the pair continued to race neck and neck. Shortly after Hayden had caught up to the rear wheel of Bradl, as he looked to pass the German in front of his home crowd. And with five laps remaining he had made his way through, and started to pursue Crutchlow.

With three laps left Stoner was not showing any signs of slowing down as he kept Lorenzo at bay with a gap of up to one second, while Pedrosa was a further three seconds behind in third. Providing the bulk of the entertainment in the final few laps was the Tech 3 pair, who continued to battle heavily. Yet there was drama in the penultimate lap as Rossi suffered a big crash heading into the corkscrew, for his first DNF of the season. Fortunately he was unhurt, yet heads into the summer break with further doubts about the Ducati’s competitiveness.

In the end it was Stoner’s soft tire gamble that paid off as he took the checkered flag by a margin of over three seconds, ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who completed the rostrum. Lorenzo still leads the championship by 23 points over Pedrosa and 32 over Stoner. The Australian quoted after the race that tire management early in the race was key to him being able to continue his high pace until the end, whilst Lorenzo expressed surprise at its longevity, sighting that the harder option may have been the wrong choice.

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Dovizioso was the first non-podium finisher in fourth, followed by Crutchlow, Hayden and Bradl. Eighth spot went to Álvaro Bautista, finishing ahead of top CRT performer Aleix Espargaró. Karel Abraham completed the top ten on his return from injury. Attack Performance wildcard Steve Rapp was unable to compete in the race today, as he failed to reach the 107 per cent lap time marker in all the preceding sessions.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix from Laguna Seca will air on SPEED today at 6:00pm ET.

Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix Race Results:

1 Casey STONER    AUS Repsol Honda Team    Honda

2 Jorge LORENZO    SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha

3 Dani PEDROSA    SPA Repsol Honda Team    Honda

4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA    Monster Yamaha Tech 3

5 Cal CRUTCHLOW    GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha

6 Nicky HAYDEN    USA Ducati Team    Ducati

7 Stefan BRADL    GER LCR Honda MotoGP    Honda

8 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA    San Carlo Honda Gresini    Honda

9 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA    Power Electronics Aspar    ART

10 Karel ABRAHAM CZE    Cardion AB Motoracing    Ducati

11 Randy DE PUNIET FRA    Power Electronics Aspar    ART

12 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL    Avintia Blusens    BQR

13 Colin EDWARDS USA    NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter

14 Ivan SILVA    SPA    Avintia Blusens    BQR

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