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...
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."