by Tracy Hagen
World champion Casey Stoner returned to form at Laguna Seca by winning the Red Bull Grand Prix. The win reduced the Australian’s point deficit to championship leader Jorge Lorenzo from 37 to 32 points and helped erase the memory of crashing in Germany and running off track in Italy during the two previous races.
Stoner’s Yamaha rival Lorenzo led the first 21 laps of the 32 lap race before being passed by Stoner. Lorenzo finished a safe second, 3.429 seconds behind.
Third was Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa. The top three ran wheel-to-wheel over the first twelve laps. Then Pedrosa started to lose touch and fell behind the leader by almost 2.5 seconds. By lap 21 Pedrosa had worked the interval back down to 1.5 seconds. From there the Spainard went soft and slowly lost ground on Stoner and Lorenzo.
The rest of the field were out of the picture from the get-go. Lorenzo’s teammate, Ben Spies, fought back the Monster Yamahas of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow until the Texan’s swingarm mysteriously collapsed on lap 22. Dovizioso held back the Brit all the way until the end to keep the best inter-team rivalry running for another race.
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden had another race-long battle with the young German whippersnapper Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. This time Hayden prevailed to finish sixth.
Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ran by himself all day and finished eighth, 22 seconds behind Bradl.
Ducati’s Valentino Rossi also ran alone over most of the race, more or less mid-distance between Bradl and Bautista. The Doctor lost concentration and crashed ahead of the Corkscrew with two laps to go.
The CRT superbikes were outclassed by the prototypes in speed and show. Aleix Espargaro was top CRT on an Aprilia, 30 seconds behind Bautista. Espargaro’s teammate, Randy De Puniet, was the fastest CRT rider in the race but played catch-up all race after Michele Pirro crashed his Honda in Turn 1 and messed up the Frenchman’s race.
Colin Edwards barely stayed out of last place despite erratic lap times on the BMW. Pity the foreign press that have to translate Edwards’s quotes.
Next race: Indianapolis, August 19.