The dramatic 2013 MotoGP
championship continues with the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Repsol Honda’s sensational rookie Marc Marquez leads in points after winning the previous round at Sachsenring, a feat helped by the fact that two of the fiercest competitors for the title were sidelined with shoulder injuries. Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, high-sided during Saturday’s practice at the German Grand Prix
and partially fractured his collarbone while also sustaining a heavy blow to his head. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo suffered a similar fate the day before, high-siding his M1 and landing on the already broken collarbone that he initially injured at Assen
. Lorenzo has now confirmed that he will attempt a return at Laguna Seca, less than a week after his second surgery. Pedrosa has also indicated that he will be on track at the U.S. Grand Prix to test his condition on the RC213V.
"Finally we have decided to go to Laguna Seca,” said Lorenzo. “Following the final medical check and after speaking with Doctor Rodríguez we are going to try. At the beginning I seriously thought that it might have been convenient to take the necessary time to recover and be back at Indy but in the last two days I have felt much better so now I want to be there, although I will try to not take too many risks.”
"After a disappointing weekend in Germany, I'm happy to be feeling better again and thankful that my shoulder wasn't completely broken, even if a fracture is still not the best thing to happen,” said Pedrosa. “Now I need to get back on track to see what condition I'm in and hope we can have a good weekend."
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow had a dismal start to the weekend in Germany, crashing twice during Friday’s practice sessions. The British rider was able to walk away from both unharmed though and by Sunday was battling in the lead pack during the race. He ended in second-place after pushing past Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi, mid-race. Rossi took a podium finish as well in third; a result, he indicated after the race, which was less than he’d hoped for. Expect both riders to push it to the limit at Laguna in order to close in further on the points leader.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl came achingly close to achieving his first GP podium in front of his home crowd at Sachsenring, but it was not to be. The German rider led for a period and tousled with the front runners for a good portion of the race, but eventually fell over four seconds behind Rossi to finish a lonely fourth. Bradl took seventh-place at Laguna Seca in 2012 and will be fighting for an improved result there during this year’s event. Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista finished fifth in Germany, his best result of the year so far, and heads to California with confidence the suspension issues that plagued him at Laguna in 2012 have been rectified.
Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden took his first GP victory at Laguna in 2005 and earned a second win at the circuit in 2006. Fortunes turned in 2007 when he was unable to finish the race, but since then the Kentucky Kid has finished seventh or better at the circuit. He’ll be looking to maintain that trend, especially in light of his recent placements, an 11th at Assen and ninth at Sachsenring, which have been disheartening for the American rider.
“It’s nice to be going home to Laguna, which is a race that I love and that’s obviously very special to me,” said Hayden. “The circuit is quite unique, and it’s not easy, as you need to be confident and attack the corners. It’s quite a demanding, technical track and a lot of the corners are linked together. You really have to hit your marks there in order to be fast. I wish we were headed there with more speed and confidence, but the reality is this. Up until now, we certainly haven’t been getting the results we’d like by any means, but with the summer break coming up, it would be nice to go there, have some fun, and leave with a good taste in our mouths.”
His Ducati teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, is less thrilled about the round, saying outright that he doesn’t “particularly enjoy the place.” The Italian has been experiencing difficulty on turn-ins of late, which may only be aggravated by the tight, technical American circuit.
The Energy T.I. Pramac Racing team will be without Andrea Iannone at Laguna, following the rookie rider’s crash at Sachsenring. He’s reportedly suffered a small fracture to the humerus and has significant and painful bruising. The team has yet to name a replacement since Michele Pirro will be testing for Ducati at Mugello. His teammate, Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies, remains out as he recovers from his own injuries, and will be replaced by San Marino’s Alex de Angelis.
Top CRT rider Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar will fight to remain in the midst of the prototypes, as he did with a fifth-place qualifying spot and eighth-place finish at Sachsenring. Elsewhere in the CRT field, American Blake Young will try to earn a bid to the main event riding for Attack Performance as a wild-card entry for the round.