The final race before MotoGP's traditional summer break takes Bridgestone Motorsport to Laguna Seca for the United States GP, the eleventh round of this year's championship. Ducati's Casey Stoner extended his lead of the riders' classification by...
The final race before MotoGP's traditional summer break takes Bridgestone Motorsport to Laguna Seca for the United States GP, the eleventh round of this year's championship. Ducati's Casey Stoner extended his lead of the riders' classification by eleven points after a determined ride to fifth place in last weekend's German GP, a race which saw his team-mate Loris Capirossi take the fifteenth podium of the season on Bridgestone tyres.
After last season's Californian heatwave saw track temperatures soar to sixty degrees Celsius, the Laguna Seca track has again been resurfaced ahead of this year's event. At 3.610km, the circuit is the shortest on the MotoGP calendar, but offers challenges unlike any other, including the world-renowned Corkscrew which initially takes riders uphill to face a blind crest before sending them spiralling downhill in thrilling fashion.
Bridgestone has only tackled the MotoGP challenge of Laguna Seca on two previous occasions, so will be using the experiences gather from those two visits in preparation for this year's event. Chris Vermeulen revelled at the track in 2006 taking pole position on Bridgestone qualifiers, his second pole of the season, before challenging for victory for most of the 32-lap race. He ultimately finished in fifth position ahead of Suzuki team-mate John Hopkins.
Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Department
What are your thoughts about Laguna Seca?
"We have only visited Laguna Seca twice with MotoGP since its return to the calendar in 2005 and it is a great venue for racing. New tracks are always challenging and exciting in equal measure because we never really know what to expect, but our tyres have shown a gradual improvement in performance at Laguna over the last two years, highlighted by Chris Vermeulen's competitiveness there last season. He really demonstrated his prowess around the Laguna track and competed for the victory before running into technical trouble close to the end. However, there are several areas which require attention too, not least the recent resurfacing, which will be our main hurdle to overcome."
What areas of the track pose the most problems?
"Obviously, the Corkscrew is the most well known part of the Laguna Seca track, but the right-handers of turns three and four are probably one of the most important parts from a tyre point of view. The circuit layout has more left handers than right, so we need good grip levels on the right hand side of the tyre, while the durability will be the biggest issue for the left. We will be bringing soft and medium compound tyres with us to cope with the anticipated technical characteristics of the track."
What can we expect from Bridgestone if the temperatures are as hot as last year's US GP, or even as hot as Sachsenring last weekend?
"Laguna Seca last year was one of the hottest races on record but the weather forecast for this year's event does not seem to be quite as hot. The desert location of the track means that if it does get hot, then the track temperature rises quickly. At Laguna last year, even with the extreme and oppressive heat, Vermeulen was able to show excellent pace, so we must look to build on that type of performance with all our teams, whatever the weather this weekend."
Riding Perspective with Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen
"Laguna Seca is a track I really enjoy, it has a lot of character and it is a very up and down hill circuit. Last year, we were very fast at Laguna Seca, I was able to lead part of the race having started from pole position. I had been to the track just once before with World Superbikes and had a lot of success, scoring the double victory. It is actually a demanding and scary circuit, very blind, especially going into the infamous Corkscrew. We go up the hill blind and if you brake a little bit later, which you often think you can, because you are going up hill the bike starts to feel really light and you can't get enough weight on to the ground, so it is very easy to overshoot there. For me the scariest part of the track is turn 1, at least what is called turn 1, which is the kink in the straight after the start-finish, where we reach speeds of up to 270kmh, over the crest of the hill, and both wheels get really light, sometimes both in the air. It is very hard on tyres coming down from the corkscrew, we get a lot G-force there and there is a lot of banking too."