In typical Monterey fashion the morning’s cool, dreary weather was replaced by cloudless blue skies and summerlike temperatures for the official start of the 2010 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix race weekend here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Even though it’s just the first day, there was plenty to do at the track with a healthy number of vendors and race fans basking in the sun for this combined MotoGP and AMA motorcycle racing weekend.
First thing in the morning, Yamaha invited all owners of YZF-R1 Limited Edition sportbikes to get an inside look at the beyond-trick YZR-M1 machinery being competed on by the Fiat Yamaha and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teams during a garage walk. Valentino Rossi was also on hand and autographed each rider’s bike and took a photo with them. Pretty cool, huh? One recently married couple rode their brand new R1 LE all the way from Colorado and were literally blushing with excitement in being able to meet one of the greatest motorcycle racers the world has ever known.
Later on, Honda unveiled its newly created CBR600RR powered Moto2 racebike. The bike was built in cooperation with American Honda and Erion Racing. World Superbike rider, Roger Lee Hayden, will race the bike during the inaugural Moto2 race run at the upcoming Indianapolis MotoGP weekend.
To commemorate American Honda’s latest racing venture, it will be making hats and t-shirts designed by world-renowned artist Aldo Drudi, founder of Drudi Performance. All proceeds will go directly to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Ride for Kids, a charity established to help fight childhood brain tumors.
“This assignment has been particularly special to me because for a long time I have wanted to create a theme that focused on the stars and stripes of the USA,” said Drudi. “This turns out to be the perfect match for this project. It is a very exciting opportunity and a project that will be of the highest level.”
Next to the racing action, one of the most happening spots at Laguna Seca is at Ducati Island. Situated between Turns 2 and 3, this oasis has morphed over the years to become a destination for all motorcycle enthusiasts regardless of the type of bike they ride.
Next to the cute girls, the thing that really caught our eye was Nicky Hayden’s No. 69 Desmosedici GP bike. The bike was literally just sitting on the tarmac waiting for people to hop on. They also had the NCR M16RR motorcycle that was built around the $72,500 D16RR MotoGP replica street bike. Lastly they had Gary Trachy’s Ducati Multistrada 1200 that he won the 1200 Pro class at the recent Pike’s Peak hill climb race in Colorado.
Also tucked inside Ducati Island was MotorcycleUSA.com and the MotoUSA magazine booth. There we were handing out the latest issue of MotoUSA’s magazine featuring not one, not two, but four special edition covers with either Nicky Hayden, AMA Superbike racer Ben Bostrom, WMA Motocross racer Ashley Fiolek, or AMA Flat Track racer Jared Mees.
We’re also handing out MotoGP rider cards and lanyards so you’ll know each rider’s bike number. If you’re at the races make sure to stop by and say ‘hi’ and pickup a magazine, rider card, or both.
(Above ) Heed poses on Nicky Hayden’s No. 69 Ducati GP bike inside Ducati Island. (Below) Yamaha’s Josh Herrin signs autographs for fans in the Yamaha Marketplace.
One of the benefits of riding a Ducati is its relationship with premium suspension manufacturer, Ohlins. And getting your sportbike suspension dialed-in right is one of the most vital aspects of sportbike riding. Thankfully, Ohlins had factory trained technicians on hand to show riders the basics in regards to suspension set-up. Some of the key points they went over was how to check and adjust the rear suspension sag. They also discussed how the compression and rebound adjustments on the fork and shock function.
For adventurous fans, Laguna Seca offers some amazing vantage points for those willing to explore the surrounding hillside. Perhaps one of the best spots on the track to watch racing action is atop the Corkscrew at Turn 8. And even though it was Friday I was surprised just how many fans were spectating during the hour-long MotoGP practice session.
Having never witnessed GP bikes at speed in the flesh I was utterly amazed at how fast riders could maneuver their motorcycles through this section of asphalt. In what seemed like a snap of your fingers they had the bike turned to the left then snapped back full right—it was unreal. I was also astounded by how fast they would slam on the throttle. You could literally see the riders pin the throttle to the stop while the bike was still laid over on the side of the tire.
After relishing in the sun and enjoying the frightful sound of an 800cc V-Four GP bike I headed back to Ducati Island for an autograph session with Casey Stoner. Even though this is his last season riding with the Bologna, Italy based team he was still all smiles signing posters and anything else fans put in front of him.
Each day motorcycle racing action is pretty much non-stop due to the numerous racing classes. Before the autograph session was over the AMA Superbike classes were already on track for its first and only practice session of the day. MotorcycleUSA’s own Steve Atlas was competing on its 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 that was transformed into a full-on AMA Superbike by Yoshimura.
Atlas ended up 23rd-fastest of the day with a best lap time of 1’32.336. Obviously we had hoped to be higher up in the timesheets but he complained of heavy steering due in part to having zero practice or set-up time prior to today.
Tomorrow, Atlas will have another practice session before he qualifies in the afternoon. He’s pitted inside the paddock next to the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team so stop by and give him a high-five. That wraps up Friday from the racetrack. Make sure to check back tomorrow to see what happened Saturday at the track.