MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner heads into the summer break on a high after winning his fourth race of the year by making a wise tire choice on a sunny day at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) third and on the podium for the sixth race in a row, equalling his longest sequence of successive podiums in MotoGP.
The win was Stoner’s second in a row and third overall at the tortuous circuit within sight of the Pacific Ocean east of Monterey, California, making him the winningest rider at the track.
And it also allowed him to take five points out of the championship lead of Lorenzo. Stoner, who will spend his summer break traveling around the U.S. with his family, now has 173 points to 182 for Pedrosa and 205 for Lorenzo.
The summer break arrives with Honda tied for the Constructor’s Championship lead, and Repsol Honda holding an 84 point lead in the Team’s Championship.
The grand prix played out in a fashion very similar to last year’s race. Lorenzo got out to an early lead in front of Pedrosa, with Stoner taking second from his team-mate on the third of 32 laps of the 3.61Km, 11-turn circuit. Stoner was one of the few prototype riders to use the soft, rather than the medium rear tire, and that would prove the key to victory.
Stoner stalked Lorenzo for more than half the race before setting up his pass. As he had done last year, he made pass in turn 1, more of a kink than a turn, a left taken in sixth gear leaned over. The difference was that this year he went up the inside, last year it was the outside and five laps sooner, on lap 22 rather than lap 27.
Lorenzo tried to stay with Stoner, and did for a number of laps, but in the later stages Stoner pulled away to a definitive victory.
The margin of victory was 3.429s.
Pedrosa was another 4.204s back in third, but on the podium again; he has only been off it once this year at the French GP.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished seventh in his first race at the circuit that allows no rest. Bradl lost the battle for sixth to Nicky Hayden, the American Ducati rider who has more experience at the track than any other rider. That Bradl was able to be competitive in his first race was impressive.
His confidence was stronger early in the race with a full fuel load. Later, when the level went down and the weight came off the front, he developed a front end chatter that caused him to slow.
Bradl heads into the summer break with a gaping lead over Michele Pirro, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider whose day was less successful.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) had a lonely ride to ninth. Bautista had crashed in the morning, and he had crashed earlier in the weekend. On his previous two visits to the track, on a different brand, he had crashed in the race. It was important for him to finish and go into the summer break with some confidence.
Team-mate Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR Honda) did not make it past the second corner in his first visit to Laguna Seca. The Italian MotoGP rookie was run off the track by another rider in the Andretti Hairpin left turn and crashed. It was his third DNF in a row, none through his own fault.
The series now goes into the summer break, a gap of two weekends before the 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship on August 17-19.
|1||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|7||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|9||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|10||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|11||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|12||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|
|13||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|14||Ivan SILVA (Avintia Blusens)|