The Laguna Seca circuit hosts the US Grand Prix this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship moves from Europe to North America for round eight of the 17-race series. The Repsol Honda Team arrives at the California track ready to bounce back ...
The Laguna Seca circuit hosts the US Grand Prix this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship moves from Europe to North America for round eight of the 17-race series. The Repsol Honda Team arrives at the California track ready to bounce back immediately after the tough luck the team experienced in the Netherlands. Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa lie in fourth and fifth in the title race and will be determined to take a strong points haul after drawing a blank at Assen.
Dovizioso put in an attention-grabbing ride last year at Laguna Seca in his debut season in MotoGP. The Italian charged to a strong fourth place and was the lead Honda rider for the satellite JiR Team Scot - all the more impressive considering this was his first visit to the tricky circuit. (The 125cc and 250cc GP classes in which Dovizioso rode prior to the 2008 season don't feature in this round of the championship). In 2009 the 23-year-old has been constantly knocking on the door of a podium finish and, with an extra year's experience to draw on at Laguna combined with the recent improvements to the chassis of the RC212V, he has every chance of fighting for a top-three finish come Sunday's race.
Dani Pedrosa will be looking to maintain the pace that enabled him to secure second place on the grid and run at the front at the previous round in Assen. The 23-year-old Spaniard, who holds fifth in the World Championship in spite of some terrible luck in the first part of the season, looked to be back on form at the last race, and he too will aim to make full use of his Honda RC212V's modified chassis to close in on his rivals this weekend. Pedrosa didn't race at Laguna last year because of injury. He will be looking to steer clear of trouble and rejoin battle at the head of the field this time around.
The Laguna Seca circuit, at just 3.610km (2.243 miles) in length, is one of the shortest and yet most dramatic venues on the MotoGP calendar. Characterised by stark elevation changes, flowing corners and short straights, it features the famous Corkscrew corner - a plunging left-right chicane that is as complex to get right as it is spectacular to observe. Both the Repsol Honda riders appreciate the challenge and atmosphere at Laguna and are relishing the chance to tackle the track once more this weekend.
The action begins at 13.55 on Friday with an hour of free practice, followed by another practice session and qualifying on Saturday, before Sunday's 32-lap race gets under way at 14.00. (All times GMT - 7 hours.)
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- World Championship position: 4th, 69 points
"I really look forward to the race in Laguna Seca. The track itself and the whole atmosphere makes coming to Laguna a fascinating experience. Last year was the first time that I had raced in the United States and I was impressed by this track. Some parts are quite dangerous and very different from the European standard of racetracks we are used to, but the whole atmosphere is incredible and I like it a lot. I'm confident that we can have a good race here. Last year I had a good battle and finished 4th, which I was pleased with. I feel as though I've come fourth enough times this year though, so I hope to make the step up. At each race we're getting closer to the leading riders but we're still not close enough yet. So we need to work hard to get the speed and consistency we need."
DANI PEDROSA -- World Championship position: 5th, 67 points
"I'm actually really looking forward to getting to Laguna and I'm feeling confident going into the weekend - as I was before Assen. The result there wasn't great, but there's no reason why we can't have a strong race in the US. I felt much better on the bike in Assen than I did in Barcelona and, although my physical fitness is not at 100 per cent because I haven't been training as usual for quite a while, the injury is getting better and isn't giving me any problems on the machine. The Laguna track itself is unique and it can be a lot of fun to ride - as long as you're going quickly. When you're struggling it obviously isn't quite as much fun! As a team we've got to continue working hard and bring the whole machine package up to a level where we can compete for wins again. We're making progress and with luck Laguna will take us closer to that target."