Going from last week’s rain-soaked German Grand Prix to the warm climate of southern California is quite a turnaround, and a number of MotoGP racers are looking for a similar reversal in fortunes in the final race before the mid-season break.
Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi will look to solidify his lead over Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Rossi, however, is still looking for his first win at Laguna Seca, with his best showing a third place finish in 2005.
“Laguna hasn’t been one of my favorite tracks in the three years since we’ve been going there and it’s one of the only ones on the calendar where I haven’t won,” says Rossi. “The last two years I’ve had serious disappointments in the race and it’s been one of the low points of both seasons, I hope I have had all the bad luck I’m going to have there and that this year I can enjoy myself.”
Rossi enters Laguna Seca nursing a 16-point edge over Pedrosa, who is still recovering from injuries suffered in a high speed crash at Sachsenring. During the first practice session, Pedrosa recorded the slowest time of all 19 participants.
“This is a difficult time for me, of course, but my will is strong and if it is possible for me to ride the bike properly then I really want to ride,” says Pedrosa. “Laguna is a physically demanding track when you are 100 percent, so it will be tough with my injuries, but I know I can count on the support of the people around me to get me in the best possible shape.”
Pedrosa can ill-afford to lose pace with Rossi but the 22 year-old Spaniard is also in danger of being overtaken by the fast-charging Casey Stoner. The reigning MotoGP champion had a disappointing start to the 2008 season but now sits just four points behind Pedrosa, thanks to a string of three consecutive victories.
Stoner put on a dominating performance in the 2007 USGP, and has an impressive record of 14 wins in 28 races since joining Ducati Marlboro.
“The race at Laguna last year really was fantastic and it would be amazing to be able to repeat that but we know this will be very difficult. We have to believe in it though and keep pushing as hard as we can to close this championship down,” says Stoner.
The racers will line up to start the 2008 USGP at 2 p.m. (PT) on July 20. The race will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.
|1.||Valentino Rossi||Fiat Yamaha||187|
|2.||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||171|
|3.||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro||167|
|4.||Jorge Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||114|
|5.||Colin Edwards||Tech 3 Yamaha||98|