Chris Vermeulen usually leaves Monterey with some podium or qualifying loot. The only thing lacking is a USGP victory, which the Aussie plans to remedy. MotoGP timbers, prepare to be shivered.
The time has come for the MotoGP circus to make its way Stateside and I have to say that makes me very happy. As we speak Laguna Seca will be coming alive as the faithful set up camp at the track that truly does give me shivers. I have so many great memories at Laguna and I’m hoping a trip there this year will ignite my season. We sure need it.
This time last year we’d had a win and another podium and were sitting pretty in the top 5 of the championship, however in 2008 it’s been a struggle. The results are starting to come but not quickly enough for my liking.
One thing I know is that at Laguna I feel at home and I’ll be doing everything to go one better than my second placing last year.
So many people ask me about the track and what’s it like to ride. It can take your breath away. Anyone who has walked it will know just how steep the Corkscrew is. For those of you who haven’t, it’s really hard to put into words, but you feel as though you could fall down the road, it’s that steep. It’s also blind; you really can’t see a thing. I try and line up a tree to have some idea of where the apex is.
Having said that, the Corkscrew is not my favorite turn. For me it’s Turn 1. You go across the start finish line and you are on it, up under the bridge and you are looking for a blind apex. Your knee is on the bitumen and the front and rear tire comes off the ground. You’ve got the pegs flying by on the inside of the track and it’s just incredible. You take a big breath every time, hope to god you’re in the right place and then you have to pull it up for Turn 2.
The week before the race is always good for me as well. We get in on Monday and for the team it’s a big trip at the end of an extremely busy period, so everyone can be pretty buggered by the time we arrive at San Francisco. However, one of the long standing traditions of the Suzuki team is a mid-week BBQ hosted by Kevin Schwantz’s Mum and Dad. It’s just brilliant; they put on a big Texas feed for everyone. I think last year they even brought their own BBQ from home, just to make sure it was spot on.
Last year Kevin and Wayne Rainey were there and it was a real treat for all of us to see them together. It reminds me of the history of the sport and the history of the team I ride for and makes me want to get out there and put the thing on the podium.
Despite it being a tough year, I’m certain the Suzuki will be competitive for the USGP. We haven’t really had many weekends where it’s been fine for three days, so some California summer weather might be nice. It really will help us keep developing the bike. If I can qualify well, then I’m certain I can race well and that will mean we’ll be fighting for a podium spot.
So to the American fans and Motorcycle USA’s readers enjoy your week, I know I will. I hope to see you trackside. Don’t be shy, come and say G’day!
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