2012 Laguna Seca MotoGP Race Result: Tense Duel Settled In Final Laps
Results and summary of the Red Bull US GP race at Laguna Seca:
Casey Stoner has won the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca for the second year running, beating Jorge Lorenzo with a pass in the same corner as 2011. Stoner's victory halts Lorenzo's recent momentum, but the Spaniard's 2nd place means that Stoner only gets back 5 points in the championship, leaving Lorenzo with a comfortable lead going into the summer break.
Lorenzo got away from the line brilliantly, leading Dani Pedrosa into the Andretti Hairpin, while Casey Stoner saw Ben Spies slide underneath him before pasing the Texan right back. Lorenzo and the two Repsol Hondas proceeded to leave the rest of the field behind; having dominated practice, the trio seized control of the race, gapping Spies quickly and leaving him to contend with the Monster Tech 3 Yamahas of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. Lorenzo pushed early, looking to build on the pace he knew he had from qualifying. Pedrosa led the pursuit, but it was clear that he would not be able to hold off a resurgent Stoner for long. His resistance crumbled on lap 3, the Australian getting past to chase Lorenzo down.
What unfolded was a tense tactical battle that revolved around tire strategies. After the cold of the morning, the sun had come out and warmed the track, persuading Lorenzo and Pedrosa to go for the safer, harder rear option. Stoner, though, had struggled with the hard tire, as he has at previous races, deciding instead to risk running the softer rear and trying to manage the temperature if it got out of control. For the first half of the race, Stoner chased Lorenzo around, following closely and always making sure that Lorenzo knew he was right behind the Spaniard. On lap 18, as tire wear came into play, Lorenzo had a moment in the Corkscrew, being thrown out of the saddle as the bike dropped down the hill. Smelling blood, Stoner closed in, snapping at Lorenzo's back wheel on the way into Turn 11 a couple of times before sliding past on the inside of Turn 1 at the start of lap 22. Last year, it was a brave move round the outside; in 2012, the pass was simpler, Lorenzo losing drive as he struggled with a wheelie, but Stoner still had to fight to get the bike stopped and make the Andretti Hairpin.
Once past, Stoner turned up the pressure and started to pull a gap. After resisting for a few laps, Lorenzo realized it was futile and settled for a comfortable 2nd. Casey Stoner went on to take a comfortable win, but more importantly, he slowed Lorenzo's seemingly unstoppable momentum. An elated Stoner was happy that a gamble on strategy had worked, hoping perhaps that the lessons learned at Laguna could be taken into the second half of the season. His gap to Lorenzo in the championship is still 32 points, but at least he closed the gap at Laguna, instead of losing out. He is still 3rd in the championship behind his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the Spanish Repsol man coming home a comfortable 3rd, but without the grip needed to challenge Stoner and Lorenzo for the lead, but the title race is tightening up.
Ben Spies' run of terrible ill fortune continues: after spending the first half of the race holding off Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, the Texan was starting to pull away and looked on course for an easy 4th place. But as he dropped down the hill on lap 22, his swingarm snapped, dumping him on the floor and leaving him out of the race. This is Spies' second mechanical failure of the season, after struggling with a cracked subframe at Qatar.
Spies' crash left Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow to scrap over 4th, the Italian triumphing once again over his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate. The two had swapped positions several times throughout the race, but Dovizioso always came out on top. Dovizioso took 4th, leaving Crutchlow to settle for 5th. Nicky Hayden had a creditable race to finish 6th, chasing and catching Stefan Bradl in the latter stages of the race, passing him without too much drama this time out. Bradl finished 7th - a good result for the first time at a notoriously tricky circuit, while Alvaro Bautista ended in 8th, inheriting the position after Valentino Rossi crashed out with two laps to go, the Italian locking the front wheel of his Ducati at the top of the Corkscrew. The crashes of Rossi and Spies allowed Aleix Espargaro to get into the top 10, bagging 9th and the best CRT bike, finishing ahead of Karel Abraham, still recovering with a finger injury.
The riders now head into a three-week break. Casey Stoner will be happy to have regained some of his momentum, and slowed Jorge Lorenzo up a fraction. Lorenzo will be happy that on a bad day, he is still capable of finishing in 2nd, while Dani Pedrosa will hope to find a few more solutions to his tire problems. For Valentino Rossi, it is crunch time, with a decision on his future expected within a week or so. By the time the paddock reassembles some four thousand kilometers further east, things could look very different.
|11||14||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||43'47.392||1 lap|
|12||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||BQR||43'55.108||1 lap|
|13||5||Colin EDWARDS||SUTER||44'17.426||1 lap|
|14||22||Ivan SILVA||BQR||44'20.627||1 lap|
|46||Valentino ROSSI||DUCATI||40'12.716||3 laps|
|11||Ben SPIES||YAMAHA||28'53.855||11 laps|
|77||James ELLISON||ART||27'06.077||13 laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||IODA||25'44.849||14 laps|
|54||Mattia PASINI||ART||15'39.351||21 laps|
|24||Toni ELIAS||DUCATI||1'36.924||31 laps|