Seventeen riders are entered for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix MotoGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Fourth of July weekend. An eighteenth rider is on the list, but won’t be racing due to a recent race injury. Rookie MIKA KALLIO/Pramac Racing hurt his left ring finger in a crash on the last lap of last weekend’s race at Assen in The Netherlands. The team has opted not to replace him. Technically, the team could still replace him at this late date, but MotoGP said it was “doubtful.” The Finnish driver hopes to have surgery and be back racing by the German GP later in July. Meanwhile, his teammate, Rookie NICCOLO CANEPA will run this weekend
Also missing this weekend is Rookie YUKI TAKAHASHI, who won’t be racing any more with Scot Racing Team MotoGP Honda. The team said it was financial issues which kept him out of the seat. The surprise is that many thought Honda would step up to the plate and save him, to keep a Japanese rider in the series. Without him, this makes the first time in a long time for no Japanese rider in MotoGP. The team’s second motorcycle is now being ridden by GABOR TALMACSI, who brings Hungarian dollars for his seat.
CASEY STONER/Ducati Team Ducati is still suffering from an undiagnosed illness, which has taken its toll on the Aussie rider. A team spokesperson said Thursday that he is doing better, “but still is not 100 percent.” Stoner was sick and required medical attention after the last two races. Last weekend Stoner finished third, but barely made it off the podium, before being taken to the medical center. With the back to back race at Assen last weekend and this weekend in the US, there was no time to seek comprehensive medical attention. After Laguna Stoner is planning on going home to run some tests. He currently is third in the standings, just nine points off leader VALENTINO ROSSI/Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha.
The seventeen MotoGP riders come from eight countries: Italy-five; Spain-four; two each from Australia and the United States, and one from France, Great Britain, Hungary and the Republic of San Marino. The motorcycles they ride come from five manufacturers: Ducati-four; Honda-six; Kawasaki-one; Suzuki-two; and Yamaha-four.
LORIS CAPIROSSI/Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki is the oldest rider, at 36 and has the most MotoGP experience, dating back to 1997. Canepa, at 21, is the youngest and he’s the only Rookie this weekend.
Eleven of the riders have a World title. Rossi, of Italy, has eight World titles – six in Moto GP, and one each in 250 cc and 125 cc motorcycles. American Hayden is the only other MotoGP titleist. The others have titles in 250 cc and/or 125 cc motorcycles.
Joining MotoGP this weekend is AMA – American Motorcyclist Association, running AMA SuperSport, AMA Daytona SportBike, and AMA American Superbike.