Points Leader CASEY STONER/No.27 Repsol Honda Team oozed by Pole Sitter JORGE LORENZO/No.1 Yamaha Factory Racing on Lap 27 and took off to win Sunday’s MotoGP race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as part of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend. Lorenzo, who was still stiff and sore from Saturday morning’s high-sided flip, led the first 26 laps with no problem.
It was a picture perfect day. The weather was low seventies F/23C, and the track surface was a warm 111 degrees F/44 C.
The race track only announces overall attendance, which they said was 136,825 this year, higher than last year’s 116,000. DORNA announced a crowd count for all three days: Friday – 38,797, Saturday – 44,818 and Sunday – 52,670.
To the victor belong the spoils. Stoner turned the race’s fastest lap of 1:21.673/98.873 mph/159.122 kph. This was the fifth win this season for the Aussie, and increased his points lead by 20, ahead of Lorenzo.
Third through fifth were DANI PEDROSA/No.26 Repsol Honda Team, the top American finisher – BEN SPIES/No.11 Yamaha Factory Racing, and and ANDREA DOVIZIOSO/No.4 Repsol Honda Team.
Stoner said “It was great it come back to a race like this and win.”
Lorenzo said “I’m happy to be in second position. I thought it wouldn’t be possible to win in this race.”
Pedrosa said “I’m happy to be on the podium”
For most of the 32-lap race, it was smooth sailing and very little passing by the eighteen riders. Pedrosa got by Stoner at the start and held him off for 17 laps, before Stoner executed his first of two great passes. Then he passed Lorenzo for the lead on Lap 26 and pulled away to win by 5.634 seconds.
The crowd wildly cheered all the passes.
Another popular pass was Spies passing ANDREAS DOVIZIOSO/No.4 Repsol Honda Team for fourth place with three laps to go.
VALENTINO ROSSI/No.46 Ducati Team finished sixth, ahead of his American teammate, NICKY HAYDEN/No.69. The other remaining Yank in the race was eighth placed finisher, COLIN EDWARDS/No.5 Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
American Wild Card rider BEN BOSTROM/No.23 LCR Honda MotoGP pulled into the pits on Lap Eight and retired.
The top Rookie rider was KAREL ABRAHAM/No.17 Cardion AB Motoracing, finishing eleventh. He continues to lead the Rookie standings.
Three riders crashed out, but all are OK. Rookie CAL CRUTCHLOW/No.35 Monster Yamaha Tech 3/Lap Three; MARCO SIMONCELLI/No.58 San Carlo Honda Gresini, who was running fifth when he crashed out on Lap Six; and ALVARO BAUTISTA/No.19 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP/LapThirteen.
Rider Points are Stoner – 193; Lorenzo – 173; Dovizioso – 143; Pedrosa – 110 and Rossi – 108. All three Americans are next, Spies – 98; Hayden – 93 and Edwards – 67.
Honda leads Constructor Standings with 235 points, followed by Yamaha – 204; Ducati – 117; and Suzuki – 45.
Repsol Team Honda leads Team standings with 301 points. Then comes Yamaha Factory Racing – 271; Ducati Team – 202; San Carlo Honda Gresini – 118; and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 101.
The next race is in three weeks, which will give Lorenzo and all the other recovering riders time to heal and relax.
And the media too. It was controlled panic before the race when the Internet failed throughout the entire track. Despite tripling the bandwidth and coverage over last year, there was so much digital traffic that everything including most cellphones went down. Track personnel got right on it and worked with the local airport to find a fix and bring back up the system during the race. Kudos!
One of the happy memories I will take away from this race was the television footage of the riders cresting and riding down the world-famous Corkscrew. The TV feed did it in slightly SloMo mode and it was pure poetry. Such colorful choreography.