Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca MotoGP Post-Race Wrap-Up

“Soft-option” Bridgestone rear tire is a winner for Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner.

Casey Stoner Wins at Laguna Seca

Casey Stoner Wins at Laguna Seca

Casey Stoner won the 10th round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, 32 laps of Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. At the start, three strong riders—Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Stoner—pulled away from the pack as they have done so often this year. At first, Lorenzo, who led more than half the race, appeared to slowly gap Stoner, who, in the meantime, had got past Pedrosa. Unlike the others, Stoner had chosen the softer of the two Bridgestone rear tire options, and general opinion was that he had done so hoping to establish an early lead then be able to defend his position in the final laps as his rivals’ tires fatigued.

“That plan didn’t work,” Stoner said after the race, as Yamaha-mounted Lorenzo was able to go equally fast on his harder rear tire.

Stoner knew there was no point in burning up his tire in the attempt—the Hondas were spinning too much as it was. Instead, he held back, saved the tire and, in the latter half of the race, moved up, eating into Lorenzo’s Lap 14 lead of a second-and-a-half to be right on his tail on Lap 20. On the next lap, he pulled alongside Lorenzo past start/finish and passed on the inside into left-hand Turn 2.

“On the inside, there’s actually a much higher hump,” said Stoner, “and I had to get the bike turned more. So, when I went through there, the front end went light and started chattering a bit. It was pretty hairy, but that’s what it’s about. It makes the heart pump, so that’s good.”

Lorenzo would later say that he had been unable to get his rear tire working at its best; consensus before the race had been that the hard was too hard and the soft too soft. Stoner said he had not made his rear tire choice until shortly before the race. The air had been cool all weekend, with foggy mornings, but afternoon sun steadily raised track temperature. It was track temperature that decided the matter for everyone but Stoner.

Lorenzo had dominated practice and was on pole, but the combination of Stoner’s tire choice and management, plus Lorenzo’s imperfect rear grip in the race, added up to Stoner’s fourth win of the season. Try to imagine the level of skill required to lead a Grand Prix while simultaneously implementing a tire-conservation strategy conceived minutes before the start.

Ben Spies on the second factory Yamaha had run fourth ahead of dueling Tech 3 Yamaha satellite riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, but, on Lap 22, the Texan lost the rear at the bottom of the infamous Corkscrew, owing to what was officially termed “a swingarm technical failure.” He was unhurt.

The championship points order is now Lorenzo 205, Pedrosa 182 and Stoner 173.

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix