Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner proved himself still in the hunt for the MotoGP championship this past weekend with a win at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.
Starting from pole position for his 4th consecutive year at Laguna, it was Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who got the holeshot, with the Respol Honda’s of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner quickly following suit. Stoner and Pedrosa swapped positions early, while Gresini’s Michele Pirro crashed out in the opening lap.
The trio of Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner got away from the rest of the field quickly, with Lorenzo leading the charge for much of the race. Stoner, who chose a softer tire option than the Spaniards, finally got around his teammate and went to work on pacing Lorenzo.
Meanwhile, Ben Spies, who earlier in the week announced he was leaving Yamaha at the end of 2012, was having a solid race in 4th, with Tech 3 Yamaha satellite riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, along with Honda rookie Stafan Bradl, following closely.
With eleven laps remaining, Stoner made a pass on Lorenzo heading into turn one of the technical Mazda Raceway, giving the Australian the lead. Lorenzo continued to pace Stoner in hopes of regaining the top position.
Disaster struck for Ben Spies with ten laps remaining when the swingarm on his Factory Yamaha M1 collapsed heading down the corkscrew. In what would appear to be yet a further run of bad luck for the Texan, he was violently thrown from his motorcycle and forced to retire out of the race. Spies was looking solid before his crash, leading a pack of riders including Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden.
Stoner and Lorenzo would continue to battle up front for the top spot on the podium, with Dani Pedrosa fading into a lonely third place position. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso would lead his teammate, Cal Crutchlow, in the battle for 4th, while Nicky Hayden went to work on 6th place rider Stafan Bradl. Hayden would eventually get around the German rider with 5 laps remaining.
Casey Stoner would eventually cross the line in first position to collect more valuable championship points, with Lorenzo following closely in second. Dani Pedrosa completed the podium in third, while Andrea Dovizioso crossed the line in 4th, followed by Cal Crutchlow in 5th. Nicky Hayden, who recently re-signed with Ducati for 2013, crossed the line in 6th place, ahead of Stefan Bradl. Alvaro Bautista would cross the line in 8th, ahead of Aleix Espargaro, and Karel Abraham.
American Steve Rapp, who was entered on an Attack Kawasaki CRT entry, did not make qualifying cut off for the race.
The MotoGP series heads to Indianapolis next August 17-19, with Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo leading the championship with 205 points, ahead of Dani Pedrosa (182 points) and Casey Stoner (173 points).