MotoGP > MotoGP 2006 Round 11: U.S.A. GP > Race Results
MotoGPU.S.A.July 23, 2006
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
U.S.A. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Hayden and Honda Show The Way To Go In The USA

Qualifying >>

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) won his home race for the second consecutive year 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.



Nicky Hayden & Kenny Roberts Jnr


Nicky Hayden & Dani Pedrosa


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.

This is the first time a rider who didn’t qualify on the front row has won. 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.



Marco Melandri & Kenny Roberts Jnr


Kenny Roberts Jnr


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 losing 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."


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
U.S.A. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca


line
MotoGP
1 Nicky HAYDEN / Repsol Honda Team
2 Dani PEDROSA / Repsol Honda Team
3 Marco MELANDRI / Fortuna Honda
4 Kenny ROBERTS JR / Team Roberts
5 Chris VERMEULEN / Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
6 John HOPKINS / Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
7 Carlos CHECA / Tech 3 Yamaha
8 Loris CAPIROSSI / Ducati Marlboro Team
9 Colin EDWARDS / Camel Yamaha Team
10 Sete GIBERNAU / Ducati Marlboro Team
11 Makoto TAMADA / Konica Minolta Honda
12 Randy DE PUNIET / Kawasaki Racing Team
13 James ELLISON / Tech 3 Yamaha
14 Alex HOFMANN / Pramac d'Antín MotoGP
15 Toni ELIAS / Fortuna Honda



Nicky Hayden & Dani Pedrosa & Marco Melandri

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