Fiat Yamaha Team lead the way to Laguna Seca The Fiat Yamaha Team leave behind a two-month road trip across Europe this week as they take flight for America for their final appointment before the midseason break, with Valentino Rossi in fine...
Fiat Yamaha Team lead the way to Laguna Seca
The Fiat Yamaha Team leave behind a two-month road trip across Europe this week as they take flight for America for their final appointment before the midseason break, with Valentino Rossi in fine form and on top of the MotoGP World Championship. After a rain-hit run of six races in eight weeks, culminating in Sunday's Sachsenring splashdown, a trip to the sunshine state of California for the US Grand Prix could not have come at a better time and it represents an opportunity for Rossi to consolidate his series lead before a well-earned holiday.
Second place in Germany, combined with a zero-point score for his closest title rival Dani Pedrosa, has given the Italian a sixteen-point advantage in the chase for the title with eight races remaining, although Sunday's race winner Casey Stoner lurks just four points further back in third place. Having been absent from the US podium since taking third when MotoGP returned to Laguna Seca in 2005, Rossi's target is to recreate Yamaha's success during the track's first spell on the Grand Prix calendar between 1988 and 1994, when the factory won five of the six premier-class races.
After struggling for confidence over the past four rounds following a run of crashes, Jorge Lorenzo is hoping to bounce back from his latest setback, a third lap spill at the Sachsenring, on his first visit to Laguna Seca as a MotoGP rider. The Mallorcan did attend the USGP last season, however, as an expert for Spanish television, having already fallen in love with California during the previous winter when he went to ride dirt-track under the tutelage of Yamaha legend 'King' Kenny Roberts at his Modesto ranch.
That experience could come in handy this weekend at the notoriously capricious circuit, where the intense dry heat, unpredictable asphalt and anti-clockwise layout reward the loose and aggressive riding style perfected in the dust bowls of the west coast. As the rear slides around, the front wheel is often left spinning in thin air through the dramatic elevation changes and fast, sweeping corners - none of them more spectacular than the world-famous 'Corkscrew'. Machine set-up is relatively straightforward, with throttle connection a much more important factor than top-end power and a well balanced chassis the key to those elevation changes and diverse corners.
Valentino Rossi - Hoping for good memories
"Laguna hasn't been one of my favourite tracks in the three years since we've been going there and it's one of the only ones on the calendar where I haven't won. We're aiming to win this week, that's for sure! It's been a hard track for our bike but it's been a very good track for Bridgestone and I am confident that our package will work very well there. The last two years I've had serious disappointments in the race and it's been one of the low points of both seasons, I hope I have had all the bad luck I'm going to have there and that this year I can enjoy myself! We are going there with the same package that we had in Germany and so we're going to have to work very hard to close the gap in performance to Stoner; we can't afford to start from anywhere except the front because, with him in this form, it is then very hard to catch him. California is a great place and this year we will be doing all we can to leave it with good memories, not bad ones!"
Jorge Lorenzo - A famous circuit
"I've never raced at Laguna but last year I went there to commentate for Spanish TV and I had a great time, California is an amazing place! I am so excited to finally get the chance to race there because it's a very special track which everyone always talks about and I am looking forward to riding at a place with such famous corners as the corkscrew. I know it's a difficult place but I am feeling stronger and I will be doing my best to get to know the circuit as quickly as possible and find a good feeling with the bike there. We need to work hard from that start, together with Michelin, to improve the grip issues we've been having. I am still disappointed about Sachsenring but luckily I wasn't hurt and it's good to have the chance to move on quickly and focus on the next race. Now my target is to have a good weekend so that I can enjoy the summer break."
Davide Brivio - A fantastic race
"We're very happy to go to Laguna leading the championship and feeling quite strong. It's never been a very successful track for us so we have to try and improve on our third place from 2005, which is our best result. It's always fantastic to race there because the atmosphere is incredible and it's a pleasure to race in California. Hopefully we will have some Californian sunshine! We need to go there on the attack and our target is to remain on the podium and maintain our championship lead."
Daniele Romagnoli - Looking for more grip
"Jorge is still very disappointed with the race in Germany but thankfully he escaped unhurt from the crash. Now we have to focus on working hard at Laguna Seca on the problems he had at the Sachsenring. The issue is a lack of rear grip, which was obviously exacerbated in the wet on Sunday, and at Laguna it will be important again because we've seen over the past two seasons how hard this circuit is on the tyres. We won't be trying anything new with the electronics - our focus is on working with the geometry of the bike and the suspension to find a more comfortable base setting for Jorge. This is a new track for him so he doesn't have any experience to fall back on, which will make it an interesting weekend for sure!"