Updated: Nicky Hayden Wins The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Updated: Nicky Hayden Wins The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

© 2006, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

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FIM MotoGP World Championship Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Monterey, California July 23 Race Results: 1. Nicky Hayden (Hon RC211V), Michelin, 32 laps, 45:04.867 2. Dani Pedrosa (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -3.186 seconds 3. Marco Melandri (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -10.929 seconds 4. Kenny Lee Roberts (Hon KR211V), Michelin, -11.941 seconds 5. Chris Vermeulen (Suz GSV-R), Bridgestone, -27.438 seconds 6. John Hopkins (Suz GSV-R), Bridgestone, -38.820 seconds 7. Carlos Checa (Yam YZR-M1), Dunlop, -44.825 seconds 8. Loris Capirossi (Duc GP06), Bridgestone, -48.526 seconds 9. Colin Edwards (Yam YZR-M1), Michelin, -53.228 seconds 10. Sete Gibernau (Duc GP06), Bridgestone, -66.279 seconds 11. Makoto Tamada (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -71.941 seconds 12. Randy De Puniet (Kaw ZX-RR), Bridgestone, -74.407 seconds 13. James Ellison (Yam YZR-M1), Dunlop, -79.283 seconds 14. Alex Hofmann (Duc GP05), Dunlop, -101.277 seconds, crash 15. Toni Elias (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -1 lap, crash 16. Jose Luis Cardoso (Duc GP05), Dunlop, -1 lap 17. Valentino Rossi (Yam YZR-M1, Michelin, -2 laps, DNF, mechanical 18. Shinya Nakanao (Kaw ZX-RR), Bridgestone, -17 laps, DNF, mechanical 19. Casey Stoner (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -18 laps, DNF, crash MotoGP World Championship Point Standings (After 11 of 17 races): 1. Hayden, 194 points 2. Pedrosa, 160 points 3. Melandri, 150 points 4. Rossi, 143 points 5. Capirossi, 126 points 6. Stoner, 91 points 7. Edwards, 84 points 8. Roberts, 79 points 9. Hopkins, 74 points 10. Nakano, 67 points 11. Tamada, 64 points 12. Elias, 59 points 13. Gibernau, 58 points 14. Vermeulen, 57 points 15. Checa, 53 points 16. TIE, Hofmann/De Puniet, 21 points 18. Ellison, 20 points 19. Cardoso, 8 points More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications: Hayden claims vital home MotoGP victory as Rossi abandons Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix – Sunday 23rd July 2006 Amidst record temperatures in California, Round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship took place today at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with the sell-out 51,378 crowd treated to a home victory at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. Nicky Hayden took his second win of the season, at the scene of his maiden MotoGP triumph, and saw his championship lead extended to 34 points with the late retirement of Valentino Rossi with an engine problem. Hayden became the first rider to win this race not starting from the front row and boosted his chances of a first MotoGP title. Reacting sharply when the red light went out, the Kentucky Kid was third by the end of the first two turns and then spent the first half of the race on the trail of poleman Chris Vermeulen, finally passing him on lap 17. After that, the American was untroubled by the chasing pack and crossed the line with a 3.186 second advantage over team-mate Dani Pedrosa. The Spanish rookie, racing on U.S. soil for the first time in his career, looked to keep up the pace on his fellow Repsol Honda rider after fighting through a series of rivals. A high pressure battle with Casey Stoner saw the Australian slide off on lap 15, ending his race. Pedrosa then gradually moved up through the podium places and settled in second with a comfortable advantage. Marco Melandri, who had started slowly, was in contention for the podium late on in the race, and was one of a number of riders to take advantage of Valentino Rossi’s retirement on the final laps. The Fortuna Honda rider overtook Vermeulen to take third in both the race and the World Championship. Kenny Roberts Jr. was the second highest finishing home rider, taking the holeshot from the front row and keeping up the pace even when passed by a handful of riders. Following Melandri, Roberts was also able to pass Vermeulen in the closing stages after he and his machine began to suffer in the heat. Rizla Suzuki’s young Australian was however the day’s standout performer, defying many people’s expectations and looking comfortable in the lead before finally being hunted down by Hayden. It was only towards the conclusion of the race that the 24 year-old rookie bowed out of the podium places. His team-mate John Hopkins completed the top six, ahead of Carlos Checa, Loris Capirossi, front row starter Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau. Alongside Hayden’s victory, the day’s main talking point was the enforced retirement of Valentino Rossi. The reigning World Champion looked to be closing in on the rostrum after a flying series of laps, and a repeat of his previous comebacks this season looked to be on the cards. However, on lap 29, after seeing smoke spew from the back of his M1, the Italian star was obliged to return to the pits and leave Laguna Seca without points. He now lies in fourth in the title chase, 51 points behind Hayden. 1st: Nicky Hayden (Honda): “I felt a lot of pressure, I didn’t want to let the home team down but also wasn’t going to let pride get in the way and make a risky mistake. It was really physical out there but that’s why you get up with the sun every morning and train. In some races that maybe hasn’t been as important as in this one.” 2nd: Dani Pedrosa (Honda): “I’m happy with the result, to finish second in my first race at a circuit is good. I want to thank all the American fans, they were awesome. The conditions were tough and it was a long race, my tyres were sliding all the time but the result is a perfect 1-2 for the team.” 3rd: Marco Melandri (Honda): “It felt as if I’d won today. It was really hard, hot and long. I wasn’t fast on the first few laps, I had tyres which were too soft. I Couldn’t push early, and using the clutch so much gave me arm pump early on. At the end of the race I was quite fast, then passed Vermeulen to get on the podium.” More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Racing Team: DETERMINATION PAYS DIVIDENDS FOR DE PUNIET Randy de Puniet rode what he referred to as the hardest race of his life to take 12th place in today’s US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, after being left to fly the flag for Kawasaki alone when his teammate, Shinya Nakano, retired with a mechanical problem shortly before the halfway stage of the race. A poor start from the fifth row of the grid saw de Puniet chasing the whole field into the first turn, but the 25-year-old Frenchman quickly got his head down to reclaim two positions, to move up to 17th place, by the end of the second lap. With the rear of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR moving around on the entry to every corner, and the handling completely different to that experienced during this morning’s 20-minute warm-up session, de Puniet was left with little option but to aim for a race finish today. The Frenchman’s determination was rewarded on lap 15, when Casey Stoner’s crash and Nakano’s retirement elevated him to fifteenth position, and a potential points scoring finish. De Puniet moved up again as a result of Toni Elias crashing just one lap later, this time into fourteenth position. The Kawasaki pilot was able to close on Makoto Tamada in thirteenth position, but felt that with his Ninja ZX-RR so unpredictable on corner entry, putting in a pass wasn’t a safe option. As the race drew to a close, de Puniet looked set to collect two championship points for 14th position, but the MotoGP rookie found himself elevated to 12th place at the chequered flag when, on the final lap, Valentino Rossi was forced to retire with a mechanical problem and a mistake by Alex Hofmann dropped him back down the field. Shinya Nakano got away from the line in ninth place from the third row of the grid, but quickly lost contact with the leading group after Valentino Rossi came past him on lap four. While he was unable to match the pace of the frontrunners, Nakano was comfortably lapping in the low 1’25s bracket and looked set for a top ten finish until a mechanical failure forced him to retire his Ninja ZX-RR from the race shortly before the halfway stage. Nakano’s retirement drops the Japanese rider from eight to tenth position in the World Championship standings. Randy de Puniet: 12th “That has got to be the hardest race I’ve ever done. We knew the conditions today would make the race difficult, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so physically demanding. I got a really bad start, but then the bike felt totally different in the race to how it felt during morning warm-up; I guess as a result of the increase in temperature. The rear end was moving around a lot and, even though I could close onto the back of Makoto Tamada towards the end of the race, it would have been too dangerous to have tried to put in a pass. At the end we picked up some valuable points, but I can’t say I’m happy with the result today.” Shinya Nakano: DNF “It is so frustrating to be sidelined by a mechanical problem, especially because it has dropped me down the championship standings. I got a reasonable start but it was obvious straightaway that we didn’t have the set-up needed for this track. I couldn’t match the pace of the guys at the front of the race, but I had settled into a good rhythm and I think a top ten finish was a possibility. Unfortunately, at around the halfway point the engine started making some strange noises, and then it stopped and I was forced to retire. We don’t know what the problem was, but now we must use the summer break to relax, so that we can come back at Brno even stronger.” Harald Eckl: Team Principal “I think the first thing we need to take a close look at is our starts, because there is definitely room for improvement there. The start aside, both riders pushed as hard as they could in these difficult conditions, and I’m disappointed for Shinya that his race ended as it did. Randy also had some major handling problems during the race, but he showed his determination by battling on to the end, and he was rewarded with at least some championship points as a result of the retirements at the front of the race. The problems we’ve experienced this weekend just show how much work we have to do over the next few months, if we are to give Shinya and Randy the chance to improve their positions in the championship standings.” More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse: Race – Laguna Seca DUCATI MEN END TOUGH RACE WITH DOUBLE TOP TEN The Ducati Team today ended a difficult weekend with a double top-ten result at searing-hot Laguna Seca, Loris Capirossi coming home eighth, team-mate Sete Gibernau in tenth as temperatures nudged 40 degrees. The race was a gruelling endurance test for men, machines and tyres, especially for Capirossi and Gibernau who never managed to get the best out of their bike/tyre package at this unusual racetrack. More then 3.000 ducatisti watched at the race from Ducati Island tribune. LORIS CAPIROSSI, finished eighth, fifth overall “I think I rode a good race, a very good race considering what we had at our disposal. It was impossible for me to do better than this. I never gave up, I passed Sete and Tamada, built a gap and then controlled that gap to the end. I used harder tyres than I had used all weekend, the front was okay, the rear went down mid-race, but overall they were okay. I am glad I finished and got some points. I just hope that this is our last tough race and that the difficult part of the season is over.” SETE GIBERNAU, finished tenth, 13th overall “It’s been the same all weekend, we haven’t been able to adjust our bike/tyre package to this track. It was one of those races which I just wanted to end because my shoulder (Gibernau broke his left collarbone last month) wasn’t good. It was done after eight laps and I didn’t want to ride with anyone else because I was struggling to get the bike stopped. Anyway, we’re done now and we’re going home for the summer break, when we can get our heads down and analyse what we’ve done here. It’s not going to be much of a holiday for me because I’ve got to work very hard to get my physical condition back to where it should be.” FEDERICO MINOLI, Ducati Motor Holding CEO and president “Considering our performance in practice, the race went better than we had expected. It is never fair to be happy with other riders’ misfortune but a little of that definitely helped us today.” LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project manager “It’s been a very difficult weekend. This is a very particular racetrack and we weren’t able to put it all together here. But both rides gave it their best despite everything and with some other riders having problems we got some decent points. We have to think positive, go home and analyse the data to understand why we weren’t fast here, when we know we can be very fast at more normal racetracks. Thanks as always to our technical partners, first of all to Shell Advance, for their support.” Temperatures: Ambient: 39 degrees C. Track: 56 degrees C More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone: Laguna Seca, Monterey, USA Sunday 23 July 2006 US Grand Prix pole setter and Bridgestone-shod Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen ended an agonising 32-lap race at Laguna Seca this afternoon in fifth position having been in strong contention for podium finish with just three laps until the chequered flag. Vermeulen led the first half of the race but was passed by eventual race winner Nicky Hayden on lap 17. Even though he was forced to yield to Dani Pedrosa on lap 26, the Suzuki was still looking good for a first 2006 podium, until a technical problem dropped him to fifth in the closing stages. The result still marks his best Moto GP finish of the season, one better than his sixth place at the Catalan Grand Prix last month and his race pace underlined the competitiveness of the Bridgestone tyres at Laguna Seca this weekend. Vermeulen finished one place ahead of his Suzuki team-mate John Hopkins who took sixth place in his home grand prix, elevating him to ninth place in the riders’ classification on 74 points. Two places further back was Ducati rider Loris Capirossi who adds another eight points to his championship tally after a difficult weekend in Monterey. His team-mate Sete Gibernau rounded off the top ten and earned himself six championship points from an equally tough US GP. Kawasaki also endured a problematic race with Shinya Nakano retiring from a top ten position with a technical issue on lap 16, whilst Randy de Puniet propelled himself from 19th at the end of the opening lap to a points-paying 12th place. The sweltering Californian heat turned the US GP into a race of endurance as the newly-laid asphalt placed increasing demands on the tyres over the gruelling 32 laps. Bridgestone is pleased with the performance of its Laguna Seca tyres which saw Vermeulen amongst the quickest on the track until his technical trouble cruelly denied him a debut podium finish. Bridgestone has worked positively with each of its teams to help them extract the best from the tyres this weekend and derives significant encouragement from the consistency shown over the full race distance in spite of the difficulties faced by some teams. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 5th place: “Everything went pretty well at the start, the bike was running well and we made what I think was the best tyre choice. Thanks to my whole team and Bridgestone for helping me today. But about 12 laps from the end the bike started cutting out, it was not running smoothly and it was hesitating on corner entry – this was making it so hard to ride. It got worse and worse and I only just brought it home. In fact three turns after the end of the race it stopped completely! I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get a podium but I think we have proved how strong the Suzuki, Bridgestone tyres and the whole team were here this weekend, and hopefully we can continue this performance.” In attendance today, Sugio Fukuoka, Bridgestone Corporation Vice-President and Officer: “I would like to extend my thanks to each of our teams and riders for solid work this weekend. It was particularly pleasing to see Chris Vermeulen on pole and it was a shame he was denied a debut podium. Our tyres performed well in today’s race, but I look forward to the remaining races of the season where I am sure we can return to the podium and hopefully challenge for some victories.” Hiroshi Yamada – Bridgestone Motorsport – Motorcycle Racing Manager: “That was a tough race for all involved, for machines, tyres and riders. The intense heat has really transformed this weekend’s race into a battle of the fittest. Chris did a fantastic job and was able to lead up until the midway point and could even retain second place until technical trouble relegated him to third place. With a podium still looking likely, he suddenly found himself unable to keep pace and saw his podium taken with just three laps to go. It is a real shame for Chris and Suzuki to miss out on their debut podium this season, but we congratulate them for their strong showing, which demonstrated the full performance of the Bridgestone tyre-Suzuki bike package. We are pleased that both Ducati and Kawasaki were able to take some valuable points away from a difficult grand prix weekend. Now we have three weeks before the next event in Brno, a race where Loris finished second last year for Bridgestone and Ducati. With that memory to spur us on, our development and work will not stop even if Moto GP can enjoy a deserved break before heading to the Czech Republic in mid-August.” Bridgestone Race Results Pos. Rider Motorcycle Race Time Gap Front Tyres Rear Tyres P5 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 45m32.306s +27.439s Slick Hard Slick Medium P6 John Hopkins Suzuki 45m43.687s +38.820s Slick Hard Slick Hard P8 Loris Capirossi Ducati 45m53.393s +48.526s Slick Medium Slick Medium P10 Sete Gibernau Ducati 46m11.146s +1’06.279s Slick Soft Slick Medium P12 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki 46m19.274s +1’14.407s Slick Hard Slick Medium DNF Shinya Nakano Kawasaki 21m29.242s +17 laps Slick Hard Slick Medium Weather: Dry, Hot and Sunny Air 39°C, Track 56°C, Humidity 10% More, from a press release issued by Honda Racing: US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Sunday July 23, 2006 HAYDEN AND HONDA SHOW THE WAY TO GO IN THE USA Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) won his home race for the second consecutive year here at Laguna Seca, his team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) finished second and another Honda star Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) was third as the factory completed a clean-sweep of podium places. This was an intense race. Intense because of the heat a 62-degree track temperature, intense because of the importance of this race in terms of where it falls in the World Championship calendar, and intense because of the nature of the track and the raw qualities needed to succeed here. This is the first time a rider who didn’t qualify on the front row has won here. But it was clear from the start that Hayden, who only qualified sixth fastest, was in no mood to be denied in his own backyard. He rocketed into third place at turn one, but then cleverly took his time to settle into a race rhythm that would get the only result he wanted a win. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) did all that could be asked of him by getting the holeshot from pole and he went hard at it early on stretching out a lead of just under a second over Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) by lap two. The early order was Vermeulen, Roberts, Hayden, Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V), Colin Edwards (Yamaha) and Melandri. These would be the men fighting it out at the end, although Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) looked as if he might be a contender until his machine let him down in the closing laps. With the support races delayed until after the grand prix because of the punishing heat and with the track only just retaining its integrity in the beating sun with a 40-degree ambient temperature roasting both riders and machinery, this was a race where only the fittest and the coolest would survive. Hayden dived inside Roberts for second place at the Corkscrew turn on lap nine while Vermeulen held a 1.7 second advantage over his pursuers, while Pedrosa, Stoner and Roberts then set about each other for third. They would conspire to trip each other up for two hard-fought laps before they realised there was still more than two thirds of race distance to run over 32-laps of this 3.610km track. As Hayden gained on Vermeulen, Stoner, who was still involved in the tussle for third crashed out while under pressure from Dani. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) stopped on the same lap and it was clear the heat and the sheer pressure of the pace was staking its toll. On lap 17 Hayden seized the lead from Vermeulen as the Aussie Suzuki man ran wide at turn three. By lap 19 Nicky had a 1.4 second lead over Vermeulen and now the race looked as if it would a question of sensible tyre management as well as an ability to maintain concentration in these deleterious conditions. Pedrosa soon closed on Vermeulen for second place and then as the final five laps drew near, the heat and the pace began to reap its vengeance. Vermeulen slowed and Melandri and Roberts took advantage of his plight. Perhaps more significantly in terms of the Championship Rossi’s machine emitted puffs of terminal smoke, and one lap from the flag he parked his stricken Yamaha at the side of the track. Hayden took the chequers with his front wheel lofted in the air, Dani followed 3.186 seconds behind, then Melandri and Roberts a runaway Honda success story under the very toughest race conditions. Vermeulen brought his bike in fifth followed by his team-mate John Hopkins. A jubilant Hayden said, “I think this feels better than last year, if that’s possible. I got a really good start from the inside I did exactly what my big brother told me and got to the outside and it worked perfectly into turn one allowing me to pick up a few places. I tried not to go too fast too quickly to preserve the tyre because the pace was quick. And then I tried to relax and chip away. It was really big for the Championship today but there’s a long way still to go and I’ve just got to stay healthy and go for some more wins.” Dani, second on his first ever visit to this track in his rookie year on a 990cc MotoGP machine, said, “In terms of conditions, this was the hardest race I’ve competed in. It was so difficult to ride at a consistent rhythm. At the start I braked a little early and lost a couple of places. And then when I was recovering and moving up I made a mistake and lost the places again so this was tough at the beginning. Finally I was able to get in front and finish second which is a fantastic result for me. Finishing one and two is amazing for our team.” Marco, who has now enjoyed three successive podiums for the first time in the MotoGP class, said, “That was a very hard race because of my physical condition, which is not yet 100%. Since the crash at Barcelona I have not had the chance to train as I want to. I got a good start from the third row but at the beginning of the race I was struggling a lot. The bike was sliding a lot in the first 15 laps but lap by lap the feeling got better and at the end I could overtake Kenny (Roberts) Valentino and Vermeulen and get third place. I’m very, very happy to be on the podium.” Fourth-placed Kenny said, “That’s the best we could do today. I was up to my maximum traction control early on and that’s usually a sign that I’m in trouble and I just tried to bring it home a similar situation to Melandri. But at the end he started using the front a little bit more. I was just a tiny bit soft and when I tried to load it, it was like using the tyre too much, not the suspension, and just risking a crash. I just tried to stay with him as long as I could and hope he made a mistake and he didn’t.” Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) finished 11th and said, “The track conditions were a little different today, the surface was five degrees hotter and the bike was sliding a lot on the left-hand corners. Yesterday I was losing the front-end and I was aggravating my injured knee. In the race it was giving me more pain as the race went on. At about mid-race distance the pain was very bad and I couldn’t push any harder.” Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V) was 15th after running into the gravel trap at the corkscrew and said, “It was a very difficult race because of the heat and my injured shoulder. Despite my bad start I could gain a few positions and was fighting with the two Ducati’s and Checa. But on lap 15 while I was 12th I ran straight on into the gravel trap at the Corkscrew and fell. Fortunately I could restart with the aim of finishing the race. I only took one point but now we have the summer break and I will have time to recover and be 100% fit at Brno.” A typically honest Stoner said, “Everything felt fine and I had a race set-up good enough to be running up front. I just made a small mistake and as I let the brake off for turn five the front just slid away. I knew I had to conserve the tyres early in the race, but once I got in front of Dani and Kenny it was no problem, I just concentrated on running a strong pace and not going to hard. I really want to say a big thank you to everyone in the LCR team who’ve worked so hard all season to keep us running up front. I’m the one who has not delivered on my side.” As the Grand Prix circus draws breath until the 12th round of this 17 race series takes place at Brno in the Czech Republic on August 20, the points standings show Hayden with 194 points, Dani with 160, Marco with 150 and Rossi on 143. Honda GP rider quotes: US GP Laguna Seca race, Sunday July 23. MotoGP: Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1st. “I think this feels better than last year, if that’s possible! Last year was perfect and it all came pretty easy but this year I really had to work for it. I want to thank the Repsol Honda team for working so hard, and Michelin because my tyres worked well today. And also thanks to my trainer Eldon Baker because today was really physical. At some tracks it doesn’t pay off to be fit but today was so hot and really physical. My life evolves around being in shape and getting up with the sun to train and days like this make it worth it. I got a really good start from the inside – I did exactly what my big brother told me and got to the outside – and it worked perfectly into turn one allowing me to pick up a few places. I tried not to go too fast too quickly to preserve the tyre because the pace was quick. And then just I tried to relax and chip away. It was really big for the championship today but there’s a long way still to go and I’ve just got to stay healthy and go for some more wins.” Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd. “I’m so happy because this was a great result. The race was really tough, very hot and it was very demanding for the rider. In terms of conditions, this was the hardest race I’ve competed in. It was so difficult to ride in a consistent rhythm. Thanks to my team because they worked really hard, and also to the legends and celebrities who came here because it’s great that they care about motorcycles. The fans were awesome too. At the start I braked a little early and lost a couple of places. And then when I was recovering and moving up I made a mistake and lost the places again so this was tough at the beginning. Finally I was able to get in front and finish second which is a fantastic result for me. Finishing one and two is amazing for our team.” Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda: 3rd. “That was a very hard race because of my physical condition, which is not yet 100%. Since the crash at Barcelona I have not had the chance to train as I want to. I got a good start from the third row but at the beginning of the race I was struggling a lot. The bike was sliding a lot in the first 15 laps but lap by lap the feeling got better and at the end I could overtake Kenny (Roberts) Valentino and Vermeulen and get third place. I’m very, very happy to be on the podium a US track. I like Laguna Seca and America. It’s a good place to launch my new helmet graphics. I hope to start at racing again with another podium at Brno Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda: 4th. “I could tell right from the beginning that I just didn’t have the grip. Not so much with the Suzuki, but with the other Hondas. That’s the best we could do today. I was up to my maximum traction control early on and that’s usually a sign that I’m in trouble and I just tried to bring it home. I was similar to Melandri, but at the end he started using the front a little bit more. I was just a tiny bit soft and when I tried to load it was like using the tire too much, not the suspension and just risking a crash. Just tried to stay with him as long as I could and hope he made a mistake and he didn’t. I’m a little bit disappointed because I wanted to be closer to the leaders from the beginning. Especially with Friday’s results. We showed up here and I didn’t want to change a lot. I didn’t want to tune ourselves out of it I would say. We picked our poison, at least I did. And didn’t want to go the other way. And then you lose confidence. So I just stayed with something I knew I had.”. Kenny Roberts, team owner. “I think the racetrack went to them, which is something that now that we’re up there, we’ve got to get over it. Our set-up is a little bit more friendly, but when the grip comes and the race comes, we’re not quite there yet. We got everything, but we need, like I said in England, we’re about a quarter of a second off of where we need to be. We need to engineer a better motorcycle for race day, not for the first two days.” Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 11th. “The ground conditions were a little different today, the track surface was five degrees hotter and the bike was sliding a lot on the left hand corners. Yesterday I was loosing the front end I was touching my injured knee. At the left hand in the race it was giving me more pain as the race went on. About the middle of the race the pain was very bad and I could not push any harder.” Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda: 15th. “It was a very difficult race because of the heat and my injured shoulder. Despite my bad start I could gain a few positions and was fighting with the two Ducati’s and Checa. But on lap 15 while I was 12th I ran straight on into the gravel trap at the Corkscrew and fell over. Fortunately I could restart with the aim to finish the race. I only took one point but now we have the summer break and I will have time to recover and be 100% fit at Brno.” Casey Stoner, LCR Honda: dnf crash. “Everything felt fine and I had a race set-up good enough to be running up front. I just made a small mistake and as I let the brake off for turn 5 the front just slid away. I knew I had to conserve the tyres early in the race but once I got in front of Dani and Kenny it was no problem, I just concentrated on running a strong pace and not going to hard. I really want to say a big thank you to everyone in the LCR team who have worked so hard all season to keep us running up front. I’m the one who has not delivered on my side.” Lucio Cecchinello, LCR team owner – manager: “It is a difficult moment for both Casey and the team. We all believe we deserve better results, there is a very big potential for Casey and the team. Casey did a perfect warm-up and a perfect start but just made a small mistake while racing in third position. Both Casey and the team have a strong spirit and I believe we will come back at the next race even stronger, and challenge for the podium result we deserve.” More, from a press release issued by Fortuna Honda: US GRAND PRIX 23rd July 2006, Laguna Seca THIRD STRAIGHT PODIUM FOR MARCO MELANDRI Marco finishes third in punishing race. The suffering heat that has been present throughout the three days of the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca made things tough for the MotoGP field today but FORTUNA HONDA rider Marco Melandri came through it with a creditable third place finish, a result that moves him up to third in the overall standings on 150 points. Despite the tough conditions Marco’s great physical shape kept him going to the end and he was able to make the most of the great job done by his mechanics to set the bike up during practice. His team-mate Toni Elias, still suffering from shoulder problems, struggled in the difficult conditions and finished fifteenth. The next round takes place in the Czech Republic on August 20. MARCO MELANDRI (3rd in the race, 3rd in the standings on 150 points): “It was a really tough race for me because I still haven’t fully recovered from my injuries from Catalunya. I got away well but it was hard at the start to keep the pace up. From lap 15 my feeling with the bike improved and i was able to make a few positions up. I was faster in the second half of the race. This is a very good result for me and I think we’ve done a good job in the first half of the season. Hopefully I can be back on the podium at Brno!” TONI ELIAS (15th in the race, 12th in the standings on 59 points): “It was a really tough race. The heat and my shoulder made things really hard. I got a bad start but lapped with the Ducatis and Carlos Checa but ran off track in the Corkscrew on lap 15 and fell. I got back in the race but was down in fifteenth place. Now I have chance for the rest I really need before the next round at. Hopefully I can be back to 100% at Brno” More, from a press release issued by Camel Yamaha: United States Grand Prix Laguna Seca, USA Sunday 23rd July 2006 ROSSI’S AMERICAN COMEBACK THWARTED AT LAGUNA SECA What looked certain to be another stunning race recovery from Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi ended in disaster today as the reigning MotoGP World Champion retired from the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca with tyre and engine troubles. After starting from tenth on the grid Rossi slowly worked his way through the field and with just five laps remaining he was on course for a valuable fourth place finish. However, with blazing sunshine bringing track temperatures up to a soaring 56ºC, the punishing conditions inevitably took their toll and Rossi’s rear tyre developed a problem, which forced the Italian to drop his pace. To add to Rossi’s woes, his the water-cooling system then malfunctioned and within moments the engine of his YZR-M1 machine overheated, blowing clouds of smoke into the air and bringing his participation in the race to an end. Things started out brightly for Rossi’s Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards before also ending in disappointment, the Texan getting a decent start from the front row of the grid and lapping with the lead group before identical tyre troubles began to kick in. With the searing heat also playing havoc on his physical condition, having suffered from flu symptoms and an upset stomach throughout the weekend, Edwards was unable to maintain his pace and he dropped back from fifth place to eventually cross the line in ninth. Nicky Hayden (Honda) took his second victory of the season to extend his advantage at the top of the championship to 51 points over Rossi, who has dropped to fourth overall with six rounds remaining. COLIN EDWARDS (9th; +53.228) “My start wasn’t great; I got off the line okay but then as I leaned over into turn one the power went a bit and I got slower and slower, so a few guys came past me. After that I just had to give it all I had to hold on and do 24.1s and 2s, which anyway is faster than we were doing on race tyres yesterday. I also had a bit of a problem stopping the bike, which was another thing to contend with. After ten laps I was completely wrecked, I think being ill on Friday took a lot out of me and suddenly I had no power left in my body. I was feeling so bad that I was seriously considering coming in, but then I saw Stoner crash and so I thought I had better hold on and try and get some points! On about lap 20 the tyre started spinning up and it just kept on getting worse and worse on each lap. I had a few big moments where I scared myself a bit, especially coming into turn one a few laps from the end. With about three or four laps to go I looked over at my rear tyre and saw just how bad the problem was, and it was all I could do to bring it safely home. Obviously I’m pretty gutted, the weekend hasn’t worked out how we hoped, but that’s racing!” VALENTINO ROSSI (DNF) “We’ve been in a really difficult situation all weekend, with a lot of problems and unfortunately things got even worse today! We made a big improvement this morning in warm-up and I was much faster, so I thought that maybe we could do a good job in the race and to start with we made good progress from our grid position. But then we had a problem with the rear tyre and I lost all grip and was forced to slow right down in order not to crash. Then we had a problem with the water-cooling system for the engine, it overheated and when I saw the smoke, I knew it was over. Anyway, now we’re 51 points down on Hayden with only six races left, so for the first time I will race for the rest of the season without thinking about the pressure of the championship. My plan is to have a lot of fun over the remaining races and try to win as many as possible, and then who knows what might happen?” DAVIDE BRIVIO CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR “It’s been a very difficult day from every angle. We had two separate problems of a different nature which affected both riders. Colin could have done a really good race but he was hampered by his physical condition and then later by a problem with his rear tyre. Valentino had exactly the same problem with his tyre and then when he slowed down the cooling system on his engine failed and it overheated, so he had to retire. Now we’re a lot of points behind in the championship and we have a mountain to climb, but we won’t give up and we will fight to the end.” More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki: Vermeulen cruelly robbed of Laguna podium Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen looked set for his first MotoGP podium at today’s Red Bull US Grand Prix from Laguna Seca, but the rookie Australian was robbed of glory by a mechanical issue. Vermeulen started from pole position and began superbly, leading the field for the first half of the race. Unfortunately a fuel supply system issue possibly caused by the extreme heat at Laguna – made his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R lose power and he was overtaken by eventual winner and Championship leader Nicky Hayden. Although Vermeulen fought to preserve his podium position and looked certain to achieve that feat, his slowing bike was unable to keep pace with those around him and he eventually limped home in fifth place his best finish of the season so far. John Hopkins finished just behind his team-mate in sixth place. After getting baulked at the start, he battled hard in the scorching Californian sun and was able to make his way up the field, continuing with his run of top 10 finishes and enabling him to move up one place into ninth in the World Championship table. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now has a three weekend break before re-grouping for round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship at Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday 20th August. Chris Vermeulen: “Everything went pretty well at the start, the bike was running well and we made what I think was the best tyre choice. Thanks to my whole team and Bridgestone for helping me today. But about 12 laps from the end the bike started cutting out, it was not running smoothly and it was hesitating on corner entry – this was making it so hard to ride. It got worse and worse and I only just brought it home. In fact three turns after the end of the race it stopped completely! I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get a podium but I think we have proved how strong the Rizla Suzuki, Bridgestone tyres and the whole team were here this weekend, and hopefully we can continue this performance in the next few races.” John Hopkins: “I gotta say I feel sorry for Chris. That really sucks for him because he rode an excellent race. I was trying everything I could and when I saw he was in first, if anything it motivated me even more. I got a bit boxed up at the start and had a hard time getting past Colin, and then made a bit of a mistake when Valentino passed me. Once the lead group had got away I just had to concentrate on my own race and try and put some good laps together. Thanks to Bridgestone, they have brought some good tyres that lasted the race in these blistering conditions so well done to them. It’s a shame one of the Rizla Suzukis wasn’t on the podium, but we have got six more races and I am sure before the end of the season either one of us will be on there. Now we are going into the summer break and we will get our head together for Brno that’s one race I can’t wait for!” Paul Denning Team Manager: “At this stage it difficult to find the balance between being pleased with a stunning weekend’s performance or bitterly disappointed that Chris and Rizla Suzuki were robbed of a certain podium. The team and the riders got everything out of the bike over the course of the weekend and whilst John rode extremely hard and very well all weekend, Chris found something here at Laguna that took him to a podium or even race winning level. We haven’t had many opportunities to stick it on the podium over the last few years, but today was a clear one so the disappointment is huge. But at the same time we still managed to finish in fifth and sixth places and under normal circumstances we would have been delighted with that result. “The potential shown this weekend is going to give us renewed enthusiasm over the summer break and to keep the momentum going forward at Brno and for the remainder of the season.”

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