Rossi Stamps His Class In Laguna Seca

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 ROSSI STAMPS HIS CLASS IN LAGUNA SECA

23 July 2008
Valentino Rossi took his first career win on American soil after an epic MotoGP duel with Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca. The Italian, who signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha last week, has now won four races this season and is 25 points clear at the top of the championship.

Valentino Rossi took his first career win on American soil after an epic MotoGP duel with Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca. The Italian, who signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha last week, has now won four races this season and is 25 points clear at the top of the championship.

Stoner finished second to Rossi with Chris Vermeulen third. Meanwhile, rookie Jorge Lorenzo failed to complete the first lap when he high-sided spectacularly from his Yamaha on his debut ride at Laguna Seca. The rookie took a major tumble and broke the third and fifth metatarsal bones in his left foot, facing a possible exclusion from the next race in Brno.

With Championship challenger Dani Pedrosa not starting this race due to injuries, the focus was the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix battle of the titans between Stoner in pole-position and Rossi right beside the 2007 MotoGP champion in second on the grid.
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At the start, the ‘Doctor’ was able to pass Stoner on the brakes during the first lap to take the lead(above).
Pedrosa’s team mate and ex-champion Nicky Hayden (left) held an early third place and the pack headed uphill and on towards the famous “Corkscrew” turn.
Andrea Dovizioso was holding fourth behind Hayden and ahead of eventual third-placed finisher Vermeulen but the action behind the leaders was nothing compared to what was soon going on at the head of the pack with the Italian former-Champion and the reigning Aussie.
Stoner sat behind Rossi up close for two more laps before making another bid for the lead on the entry to turn one.
Rossi then re-passed Stoner, this time on the steep downhill section of the Corkscrew (right), running into the dirt on the inside, just retaining control and pushing Stoner wide on the exit. This was a brawl on tarmac and high entertainment.
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On lap six Stoner used the ‘996m’ main straight to power past Rossi again before he returned the compliment on the next lap. The pair were more than three seconds ahead of Hayden by now. But Vermeulen now had the measure of Hayden and took the place off the 2005 and 2006 race winner.
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Stoner set a new lap record of 1m 21.813s on lap eight as he clung on to Rossi (left). The duo now had an eight second advantage over Vermeulen who was never going to catch them now.
Stoner tried to take Rossi again on lap 14 at turn one but he ran wide and gave the place back.
The top two were riding on the limit, but something had to give, and on lap 24 it was Stoner who made the mistake that would cost him at least the chance of fighting for the win.
At the final turn, Stoner misjudged his braking on the entry running wide, onto the dust, but critically too close to the gravel trap which claimed him. It was at walking pace he finally succumbed, toppling off, but remounting swiftly enough to still be eight seconds ahead of Vermeulen. Rossi was long gone now though.
Vermeulen (right) passed the test for third overall in an exciting battle with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso during the first stint of the race.
The Aussie then kept his concentration for the remainder of the race and brought his Suzuki home for a second successive podium at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
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Dovizioso was steady in fourth, Hayden tried to put pressure on him but remained fifth (above left), while Randy de Puniet (above right) was fast enough to repeat his sixth-place of last season. Shinya Nakano managed a tenth place (below left). His battered team-mate, Alex de Angelis (below right), riding with a broken thumb after crashing in practice, got 13th spot.
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Loris Capirossi (left) had a tough race as he tried to come to terms with the demanding track.
The injury to his right arm caused him severe distress throughout the tiring 32-lap race, and although he fought his way as high as eighth place, but he couldn’t keep the momentum going and eventually finished 15th to take the final point.
Suzuki’s wildcard rider Ben Spies produced a relatively good performance against the experienced MotoGP field.
Spies (right) was up to as high as seventh until the last lap, but couldn’t hold on to it and was passed by Toni Elias at the line, and settling for 8th overall.
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Kawasaki’s substitute MotoGP rider, Jamie Hacking(left), brought his bike home in an eleventh place on his premier class debut.
Anthony West struggled with a lack of feeling from the front of his bike all weekend, and despite set-up changes made, West (below) still lacked the confidence in the front grip to push hard in the race, finishing in 17th place and last of the classification.
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The MotoGP contingent now heads for a mid-season break before the eventual Czech Grand Prix on 17 August.
MotoGP: ROSSI STAMPS HIS CLASS IN LAGUNA SECA