Sunday, July 20, 2008
Rossi stops Stoner for first Laguna Seca victory
World Championship leader Valentino Rossi put an end to Casey Stoner´s victory run with a win at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Rossi stops Stoner for first Laguna Seca victory World Championship leader Valentino Rossi put an end to Casey Stoner´s victory run with a win at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi added Laguna Seca to his list of conquered tracks on the MotoGP calendar in a breathtaking Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, ending Casey Stoner´s run of wins and garnering an important addition to his points tally heading into the summer break.
In contrast to his comments after Saturday´s qualifying session, Rossi needed neither a gun nor a 30-second headstart to stop the man so dominant in practice. Instead he relied on a storming start and his best pace of the weekend to stifle Stoner´s breakaway attempt, presenting himself as the only object between the Australian and a fourth consecutive victory.
A speedy start, some shaky moments and two top caliber riders separated from the rest of the field made for a thrilling race, and the end result of a 33rd victory for Rossi for the factory Yamaha team –equaling his total for previous manufacturer Honda.
The deciding moment of the race came on lap 24, as Stoner and Rossi prepared to enter the home straight. Having battled back-and-forth amongst themselves at every corner, Stoner ran wide onto the gravel. An attempt to dig his left foot in order to push himself back on-track led to a fall for the 22 year-old, although he nonetheless picked the Ducati Desmosedici GP8 back up with a cushion on the timesheet significant enough to allow him to finish second and move up in the overall classification.
2007 Laguna Seca runner-up Chris Vermeulen rounded off the podium, using the same kind of pace that he had demonstrated in practice. Having started from eighth on the grid, a better result in qualifying could have seen the Rizla Suzuki rider at the very least take advantage of Stoner´s late fall. He took his second rostrum in succession in a positive race for the Australian.
Some 34 seconds down on Rossi as they crossed the line for the final time, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden were tussling for the honour of fourth place and the highest position for Honda and Michelin. The JiR Team Scot rookie eventually did enough to deny twice Laguna Seca MotoGP racewinner Hayden in the Repsol Honda rider´s home race, concluding a great maiden appearance at the track.
Randy de Puniet repeated his sixth position from 2007, this time onboard the LCR Honda RC212V, whilst Toni Elias, Ben Spies, James Toseland and Shinya Nakano wrapped up the top ten. Wildcard Spies –on pole for the AMA Superbike race running concurrently with the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, had believed that he still had one lap remaining as he fought with the established premier class riders.
A first visit to Laguna Seca did not end well for second Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who highsided his M1 on the opening lap. He picked up a fractured third metatarsal in his left big toe, an injury that will not endanger his participation in Brno when the World Championship returns in August.
Rossi now leads the standings by 25 points, whilst Stoner´s latest podium finish moves him up to second. Laguna Seca absentee Dani Pedrosa drops down to third place.