Stoner back to winning ways at Laguna Seca
30 July 2012 – Casey Stoner returned to the top step of the podium in Sunday’s United States MotoGP at Laguna Seca. The reigning Champion led home Jorge Lorenzo as Dani Pedrosa helped pick up Honda’s 300th podium finish in third position.
Lorenzo led into Turn 1, with Stoner third and immediately hassling Pedrosa. The Australian was the only front-runner who elected to start on the softer compound rear tyre. Further back, Michele Pirro and Toni Elías were both early casualties.
Stoner’s assault on the lead came as early as the second lap, muscling his way past Pedrosa and immediately beginning to hunt down Lorenzo. Behind, Ben Spies – departing Yamaha at the end of the season – headed up the battle for fourth place which also included Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Stefan Bradl. Behind this group was the Ducati pairing of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi.
As Mattia Pasini retired for Speed Master on Lap 13, Pedrosa suffered a huge wobble and was fortunate to hold on to his Repsol bike. A moment then came for fellow Spaniard Lorenzo as the 2010 title winner headed into the infamous Corkscrew; this was all of the motivation Stoner required. The now inevitable overtake came at Turn 1, just as it had a year ago. To compound Yamaha’s misery, Spies crashed out.
More drama came on the penultimate lap as Rossi suffered a big crash on the run into the Corkscrew, racking up his first non-finish of the season but escaping unhurt. It remains to be seen as to whether he will remain with Ducati in 2013.
Stoner crossed the line just under three and a half seconds ahead of Lorenzo, with Pedrosa a further four seconds in arrears. Tech 3 enjoyed a strong race as Dovizioso and Crutchlow both made the top five, with Hayden rising to sixth in his home event. No less than seven of the 21 riders failed to see the chequered flag.
"It's been a difficult weekend for us in general, especially trying to make the hard tyre work," said the victor. "So for the race I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tyre, keep a little more traction and not spin so much. When we got to the front we put in some good laps and just continued from there. I'm very, very happy and a big thanks to all the team."
Lorenzo now leads Pedrosa by 19 points, with Stoner 37 off the lead.
MotoGP continues in America, at Indianapolis, on 19 August