The little man from Spain came through with a big win today at Laguna Seca.
Yet another Red Bull U.S. GP is in the books, and while this one may not have been nearly as nail-biting as the last, it still provided plenty of fireworks over this 4th of July weekend.
The race jumped off at 2 p.m. sharp and little rocket Dani Pedrosa took a surprise holeshot and the rest was history. And while he technically led from start to finish, The Doctor and Casey Stoner had a battle for second early on which had shades of 2008 in it, though Stoner faded with physical fatigue about half-way through the race. It wasn’t until Ironman Jorge Lorenzo caught up to Rossi near the end that the real drama went down, with Lorenzo going for an extremely late pass in the final turn which saw him almost lose the front – not once, but twice – causing him to run wide and letting Valentino back by.
Strangely enough, though, Pedrosa seemed to fade near the end, with Rossi able to make up over a second on the last lap alone, closing right on Pedrosa’s rear in the final corner.
“I was able to make up time at the end,” Rossi said after. “I made some changes after the morning on the front end and they didn’t work so well. Once the fuel was able to come down and the tires to slide some I was much better and I was able to push and catch Dani. I was very close at the end in the last corner but a pass was not possible, too dangerous.”
Lorenzo’s heroic ride was quite amazing considering he has a reported dislocated collarbone and fractured foot from his second of two crashes yesterday in qualifying.
But it was Valentino Rossi (46) and Jorge Lorenzo (99) that provided most of the real on-track action today.
“Thank you very much to Dr. Costa and everyone as they have made it so I can ride. The injections made it possible but I was very weak in my right side and had to use my other arm very much. It is very tired. I was able to try and overtake Valentino there (in Turn 11) but I was in too deep and the back end started to move and I just shut my eyes,” Lorenzo laughed. “I was lucky and he was watching over me and I didn’t fall. But anyway third is good today with the circumstances.”
Lorenzo’s injuries appear to be quite serious and when asked about them he didn’t seem too confident in being back to full health for the German Grand Prix in two weeks time. “Some (doctors) say this injury takes five to six week to be 100%,” Lorenzo added. “But sometimes with an athlete (healing) can be done quicker, so I will try.”
For the American crew Nicky Hayden came through with shining colors on a stars-and-stripes-painted Ducati, made to commemorate his own 848-replica bike which was unveiled by the Italian marque this weekend.
Special paint for Hayden brought him some speed at Laguna with his best finish of the season thus far.
“It’s hard for me to say that I’m happy with fifth place being a two-time winner here, but honestly I’m pretty happy,” said the Kentucky Kid with his trademark million-dollar smile. “In the race I was able to get a decent start, but I really wish I could have got by Toni (Elias) earlier and try to get in that front group. I think I could have kept them in sight a little bit. They weren’t a lot faster than me. But, again, by far my best qualifying and my best race. I’m happy and I feel like we’re really slowly making some progress. We’ve come a long way with the guys on some settings and the electronics and I really hope we can keep it going.”
Edwards wasn’t quite on his earlier form from the morning warm-up and could only muster seventh today, some distance behind Elias at the end. It looked as if he could put together a charge early in the race but wasn’t able to make it happen over the full 32-lap race distance.
In AMA news the day was marred by red flags, loads of crashes and a host of delays, miss-starts and horribly bad calls by the AMA.
Ben Bostrom won the Daytona SportBike race only to start the American Superbike race off by blowing Turn One and taking out Neil Hodgson and a slew of other riders. Hodgson appeared to be hurt in the crash and wasn’t getting up on his own power (he did make the restart, though, and appears to be all right).
Lorenzo was still showing signs of some serious pain after yesterday's big crash. He put in a heroic ride for third.
This was followed by them releasing a pace car, which entered the track in the back of the field and caused mass havoc among all the riders, none knowing what to do and the fielding rolling around at a walking pace as the leaders tried to wave the pace car by. This went on for a full lap only to have the AMA then red-flag the race.
The press room here at Laguna Seca was in an uproar, the world’s press laughing in disbelief as the AMA mangled their second race of the day. Thus, in the world’s eyes, AMA racing has now become that much more of a farce. Nice work DMG/AMA…
At least Hayden put it in the top-five today to save some face for the good ol’ U.S. of A over our own Independence Day weekend here at Laguna Seca. That’s all from me folks, let’s hope Indy is a bit better…