2012 Laguna Seca MotoGP Press Release Previews

Press releases issued ahead of this weekend's Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. Includes the Yamaha MotoGP press release, which gives no hint of Ben Spies' announcement he will be leaving the factory at the end of the year, as well as details of updates to be used by both Honda and Ducati:

MotoGP Heads Across the Atlantic for Laguna Seca

Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies arrive in California this week to prepare for the first of the season’s two US rounds, Sunday’s Grand Prix of the USA at the Laguna Seca circuit. Championship leader Lorenzo is traditionally strong at Laguna, taking victory from pole in 2010 and second from pole in 2011. A huge crash last year the day before the race left Lorenzo with reduced energy levels, possibly denying a second successive victory. With a 19 point gap over closest rival Dani Pedrosa, this weekend will be key in extending the lead.

Texan Ben Spies arrives for his first US race of the season hoping the home crowd will be the lucky talisman he needs to get his Championship back on track. Spies has a strong record at Laguna as a three-time AMA race winner there. He scored sixth on his first MotoGP outing and bettered it again last year, finishing just off the podium in fourth.

Situated amongst the hills just a couple of hours from San Francisco, The Laguna Seca circuit claims jaw dropping elevation changes and possibly the most famous corner in the racing world, the infamous ‘corkscrew’. Weather can be unpredictable with cold misty mornings followed by dry hot days providing exciting racing for the American fans.

Jorge Lorenzo

“With the exception of the disaster at Assen we are having a very strong season so far, always finishing in either first or second place. Hopefully we can continue to do this here to extend the lead a little more. I have always had great races here in Laguna in MotoGP and always finish on the podium. I love the circuit, the corkscrew corner is amazing and the American fans always make an incredible atmosphere for us.”

Ben Spies

“It’s always special racing in front of your home crowd. It’s been a pretty rough season so far but we’ll see if we can turn it round here, put on a good show for all my fans and change it up for the second half of the year. We had some great results here before in AMA and not so bad on my first two MotoGP visits. It’s going to be great to see some old faces around the track over the weekend too.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

“So here we are heading into the second half of the season already. Jorge is riding very well and achieving excellent results. We know he really likes the Laguna circuit and is strong here so I’m confident we can do well. Last year he had a big crash the morning of qualifying which meant he had a lot less energy than usual on race day. He’s fit and ready so we’re hoping that won’t happen this time.”

Massimo Meregalli

“It’s always exciting to come to Laguna, it’s an iconic track, a legend! We arrive leading the Championship with Jorge on strong form which is important. For Ben it’s been a really tough season so far and he’s been very unlucky recently. I am confident he will give it 100% this weekend and we will see the results we know he is capable of in front of his home fans.”

Ducati Team travels to Laguna Seca

The first of two American stops in the 2012 MotoGP Championship will take place on Sunday at California’s spectacular Laguna Seca circuit, a beautiful and challenging track that winds through the hills east of Monterey.

The United States Grand Prix is very special for Nicky Hayden, as it was the site of his first GP victory, in 2005, and of another win the following season while he was on his way to the world title. Valentino Rossi is also fond of the track’s unique atmosphere and old-style layout, which played host to a win for the Italian in 2008, as well as to three additional podium finishes.

The “stars and stripes” round is also important for the company from Borgo Panigale, for whom the United States represents the most important target market, and one that is continuously growing, as Americans have long associated Ducati with quality, technology and exclusivity. As is the case every year, the Ducati Island will serve as a meeting point for the many Ducatisti who will come to support the Ducati Team and its riders over the weekend.


“Laguna is a difficult track, with many bumps and a lot of elevation change, but at the same time it’s beautiful and fun, in part because it’s rather old-style. I really like the fans and the general feel. Although my last test at Mugello was ended early, we were able to begin working with some details, and we’ll probably be able to use some of them at Laguna, even if we’re talking about a small percentage of the package that they’re working on at Ducati. Last year we went okay at Laguna, so we’ll see what happens this weekend.”


“Of course I like Laguna, so I’m excited to go there and see my home crowd and all my friends in the AMA paddock. We’ve been getting a little closer to the front lately, but now is no time to rest. We have to keep working, because now the gains will be more difficult. Laguna is certainly not easy, and I doubt the lap times will be much different with the 1000s than they were with the 800s. I’m not even sure we’ll use sixth gear, and as was the case at the Sachsenring, we’ll probably spend a lot of time working with the wheelie control and just trying to use that power when it’s available. The new tyres should work better at Laguna, especially in the colder mornings and on the right side. My goal is clear: go there, have fun, and try to get the best result of the season.”


“The next two GPs in the United States are obviously very important for Nicky, and he would like to take advantage of the progress shown in recent weeks in order to do well for his fans. Vale came very close to making the podium at Mugello, but we must manage to give him the opportunity to be more effective in qualifying as well. At Laguna we’ll continue working with the settings that we’ve been perfecting for a few races according to our riders’ respective needs, and we’ll seal the fourth engines for both. Like the third one, already in use, it was made in a way that makes it possible to install new parts that are intended to improve rideability. For this race, we’ll have some of the updates that we tried at the Mugello test, and those will be followed in the next races by subsequent evolutions.”

Bridgestone MotoGP™ Race Preview - Round 10: Laguna Seca, USA

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)

The second half of the 2012 MotoGP™ season gets underway with this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home to one of the most challenging and exciting sections of tarmac on the calendar; the Corkscrew.

Laguna Seca features rapid changes in both elevation and direction so the tyres supplied must provide excellent front-end stability. With this in mind, the front tyres developed for the U.S. Grand Prix deliver high levels of edge grip for the more demanding sections, while also granting excellent warm-up performance at a circuit that has one of the lowest average speeds in MotoGP™. There are seven left-hand turns compared to just four right-hand turns, so the asymmetric rear slicks feature slightly harder rubber on the left shoulder for greater durability though overall, the rubber compounds used in the rear tyres at Laguna Seca are towards the soft end of the spectrum.

The wider operating temperature range of the 2012 specification MotoGP™ tyres will ensure riders have consistent grip levels and exemplary warm-up performance at a circuit which can experience large daily variations in ambient temperatures due to its proximity to the ocean and its location in a natural amphitheatre in the hills east of Monterey. Generally, track temperatures in the afternoon at Laguna Seca tend to reach approximately 45°C as the sun shines overhead but in the morning, the lower ambient temperatures keep the track somewhat cooler at around 25°C.

Laguna Seca has the shortest main straight on the calendar at just 453 metres in length meaning that the bikes and therefore the tyres spend more time at high lean-angles and have less time to cool down, resulting in greater levels of heat retention in the tyres than the ambient and track temperatures would suggest.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“Laguna Seca is the perfect venue to commence the second half of what has been an entertaining season as the U.S. Grand Prix is a race which historically has played a pivotal part in the championship. The previous few years has seen many exciting battles at this circuit and last year’s contest between the three riders currently leading the championship in Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner was particularly memorable among these.

“The established American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards are always competitive at Laguna Seca, but the local fans will have another rider to cheer on this weekend as wildcard rider Steve Rapp makes his debut in the class aboard the Attack Performance-Kawasaki CRT machine. Finally, I would like to wish Hector Barbera all the best in his recovery from his unfortunate injury and I’d also like to welcome his replacement for this weekend, Toni Elias, back to MotoGP.”

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Laguna Seca is the shortest circuit on the calendar yet still presents a significant challenge for MotoGP tyres. The Corkscrew is a really demanding section with the fast change of direction and elevation requiring superior front-end feel and stability, but the tyres also need to provide good levels of grip through the right-handed turns three and four and as these ninety-degree corners do not place as much cumulative load on the tyres as long corners, the compounds on the right shoulder of the tyres need to be softer to retain sufficient temperature.

“Most of the corners at Laguna Seca are left-handers so the left shoulders of the asymmetric rear tyres feature relatively harder rubber to cope with the greater stresses endured, but overall Laguna Seca isn’t that demanding on rear tyres. The front tyres choices for this Grand Prix are the soft, medium and hard compounds to ensure excellent warm-up performance and edge grip at a circuit where track temperatures can vary significantly between the morning and afternoon sessions.”


After a difficult weekend followed by a positive day of testing at Mugello Team San Carlo Honda Gresini heads to the United States this weekend with renewed faith and confidence. The post-race session last Monday in Italy gave Alvaro Bautista the opportunity to rebuild his feeling for the Honda RC213V before tackling the spectacular Laguna Seca circuit in California. Using the soft tyres the Spaniard completed 49 laps of Mugello at an impressive pace. It was also a positive session for Michele Pirro, who along with his crew was able to fix the technical problem that has brought his last two races to an early finish. Laguna Seca will be a completely new circuit to the Italian but he cannot wait to get started out there and experience the unique atmosphere of the West Coast, where Team San Carlo Honda Gresini hope to be back amongst the frontrunners in MotoGP.

Alvaro Bautista “Mugello was a difficult weekend for us. I was desperate to perform well in the team's home race, especially with the livery going back to white, but unfortunately we had a lot of problems using the hard tyre and that prevented us from finding a set-up that we liked. I never managed to find a good feeling with the bike so wasn't able to push it or myself to the limit. Since returning home I have been working hard on my physical fitness and I went down to Albacete to watch the Spanish Championship race. Now I want to rediscover the pace and feeling for my bike that I had before Mugello. It would be nice to have a 'normal' weekend so that we can work on maximising our potential and being as competitive as we have been in the last few races. A good result would set us up for the next few weeks and also put some bad memories to bed for me in MotoGP at Laguna because I have yet to actually finish a race there. Laguna Seca is a difficult circuit with dramatic elevation changes and blind corners where you have to anticipate the entry point in order to get the best line. It is important to have a good setting on the bike otherwise your job on the track gets much more difficult. There is a wonderful and unique ambience there with there only being the MotoGP class and the atmosphere created by the American fans is fantastic.”

Michele Pirro “I am still feeling bitter about the retirement at Mugello in my home Grand Prix, which made it a double disappointment for me, the team, the fans and the sponsors. Unfortunately this is still a young bike and these things can happen from time to time. During the test on the Monday we managed to work out the problem and now we can go to Laguna feeling much better about it and looking to do well. Since the last race I have spent three days at the barracks continuing my police training but also kept up to my personal fitness programme in readiness for a very demanding circuit. I have never been to Laguna Seca but from what I have seen and been told it is a spectacular track. I am curious to see the famous Corkscrew for real – I am told it is amazing. I can't wait to get on track, I feel in good shape and I am determined to do well.”

Fausto Gresini “The trip to America comes on the back of a disappointing home Grand Prix for us but Laguna Seca presents a chance to put things right. The data we gathered during the test at Mugello was all positive and we're feeling confident now. Alvaro has rediscovered the confidence he was lacking in the bike over the weekend when he was forced to use the hard tyre. Using the soft tyre in the test he was able to rediscover his feeling with the bike and he is confident he can get back to the form he showed before Mugello. It was also a satisfying day for Michele because we were able to solve the problems with the CRT bike that had forced him to retire from the last two races. Laguna is a completely new experience for him but he always adapts quickly to new circuits so I am sure Michele can be fighting to be the top CRT there. ”

Repsol Honda Team to receive new engine and chassis for Laguna Seca

The Repsol Honda Team crosses the Atlantic Ocean this week and heads to California to participate in the first race of the season in America. The Red Bull US Grand Prix in Laguna Seca will be the tenth round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, the fourth race in five weeks and the last race for the teams and riders before the summer break.

HRC have been very productive since Mugello and have prepared the new parts that both Dani and Casey tested on the Monday test. In Laguna, Dani Pedrosa will have a new engine and chassis as he requested, and Casey will have the new engine in the standard chassis which he feels more comfortable with.

Laguna Seca is a very particular track, the shortest of the Championship, quite bumpy, technical and physically very demanding, not only due to the high temperatures that can easily reach up to 30 degrees but also because of the tiresome 32 lap race.

Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, second and third respectively after the first half of the Championship, have both won in Laguna Seca in the past. Casey has taken the top step of the podium twice (in 2007 and 2011, the two seasons in which he was MotoGP World Champion) and Dani won in 2009 and crashed the year after while leading the race. Two more podium finishes for each (Casey in 2008 and 2010) and Dani (in 2006 and 2011) make both Honda factory riders confident to fight at front of the field in California.

DANI PEDROSA World Championship Position: 2nd with 166 points

"I'm really looking forward to racing in Laguna Seca. The atmosphere there is fantastic and it's a very particular track, nothing like what we are used to in Europe. Laguna is very small, bumpy and technical. Last year it was a very hard race for me due to the lack of fitness, so I hope to enjoy riding there again as we did in the past. Honda has made a big effort to bring the new parts to Laguna so we'll have our standard bike but we'll also get the new engine and chassis we tested in Mugello and I hope we can take advantage of these improvements and have another good race".

CASEY STONER World Championship Position: 3rd with 148 points

"I always look forward to going to Laguna, it's a circuit we've enjoyed quite good results at and the atmosphere there is fantastic. The circuit is a very tight and technical and it's definitely a positive that it goes around to the left, as we have less chatter on the left hand side. However, some of the most critical corners are right handers so it depends how we can get the bike set up before I can say if we'll be competitive. We've had a nice short break since Mugello and we're looking to improve on our results from the last two races. HRC have worked hard in Japan to provide us with the new engine and some parts from the test, hopefully we can have three dry sessions to get some work done and be competitive for Sunday, but we'll have to wait until we get on track".


POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders head to USA with new parts and electronic updates to keep them at the head of the CRT charge

With their Moto2 and Moto3 counterparts already relaxing on holiday the MotoGP World Championship teams and riders this weekend face one more appointment before the summer break as the series heads to the USA. Laguna Seca may be the shortest circuit on the calendar but it certainly isn't short on excitement, packing a host of fast and flowing corners and dramatic changes in elevation into its 3.610km layout - not to mention the most famous downhill chicane in racing: the Corkscrew. Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner continue their three-way battle for the series lead at a circuit where they have all tasted victory before and the latter pair will be highly-motivated to repeat that success as they look to put the brakes on the in-form Spaniard.

A weekend off provided welcome relief for the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team after an exhausting run of three races in a row, although their form suggests the more races the better for both Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró right now. The pair concluded a positive post-race test following the last round at Mugello and gave good feedback from electronic and chassis updates that they hope will be useful this weekend. Randy has finished as the top CRT rider at the last three consecutive races and he is aiming to maintain his stunning form this weekend. Aleix remains his team-mates closest rival and he will be doing all he can to switch their fortunes at Laguna Seca.

Randy De Puniet: "Laguna Seca is a very special circuit, one of the toughest on the calendar. The Corkscrew, the fast and flowing corners, the elevation changes... they all combine to make it a very technical layout. If you get one corner wrong it spoils your run into the next one and costs you a lot of time. Also I imagine like usual it will be tough because of the heat but as always I am looking forward to competing in the USGP. We have been the top CRT for the last three races so I hope we can continue this run next weekend. I have always felt good riding at Laguna Seca and I am sure we'll pick up another good result. This circuit is very different to the last few we have been to but I think we have a good base setting and the ART can be just as fast there. The objective is just to keep making progress and continue to be the point of reference for the new MotoGP concept."

Aleix Espargaró: "A week off after Italy was very welcome because three races in a row is tiring. The test after the Italian GP went well and we tested a new chassis that we will take to Laguna Seca. Hopefully it gives us something extra over there. The circuit itself is completely different to anything else on the calendar so I can't wait to get there and see how our bike works. I think it should be good because it's a small track with no large straights so we should lose out less compared to the factory bikes. Laguna Seca is a very demanding track. Of course it has two or three famous corners but it is a technical track in all, where it is difficult to find a set-up, so I hope it works for us. It is a while since we finished as the top CRT so that is our objective this weekend."

Ellison Heads Stateside In Points Quest

James Ellison and the PBM UK team will be in action in round ten of the MotoGP World Championship as the first of two successive rounds in the USA takes place this weekend starting at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The 11-turn, 2.238-mile jewel of a road course on California's beautiful central coast near Monterey will see the 31 year old from Kendal hoping to score points for a fifth successive race aboard the Claiming Rules Team (CRT) specification Aprilia ART following success at Silverstone, Assen, Sachsenring and Mugello.

But whereas points are vitally important, Ellison will be looking to take top honours in CRT which he managed at Le Mans en route to a superb 11th place earlier in the year for the Penrith based team in their debut season in MotoGP.

Last time out at Mugello, former World Endurance and double European Champion Ellison battled with the leading CRT bikes throughout the race and was unlucky to miss out in the latter stages so will be hoping to put that right in the Californian sun where he and his American wife Sarah have been acclimatising since the previous round in Italy.

In the Team's Championship, PBM UK holds tenth out of the 14 contenders, just a point behind Speed Master in third overall in the CRT standings. The CRT class is headed by the two-rider Power Electronics Aspar Team of Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro in eighth place.

James Ellison: "I'm really excited to be racing back in the USA as it's my second home and I just love being in America. Laguna Seca is in my top three all time favourite tracks so to be riding it on the Aprilia which I'm really enjoying riding at the minute will be awesome! We made a step forward with the upgraded swinging arm in Mugello which gave us more grip and we have one in the second bike this weekend too so that should help us. I need to start clawing some points back on the Aspar riders in CRT so as usual I'll be digging deep."

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The Yamaha press release:
"A huge crash last year the day before the race left Lorenzo with reduced energy levels, possibly denying a second successive victory."

WTF, what are these guys on???? Wouldn't have had anything to do with THE balls-out pass of the year from Stoner. Honestly, press release writers must be lower than used car salesmen and politicians on the honesty scale......

They must have been watching the race on SPEED.

David, any news on what bike Colin Edwards is riding at Laguna?
Have they dumped Suter for the FTR or ART?

As far as I know, they will be racing the Suter. If they switch, it will be after Laguna.

This will be a good test of exactly where the CRT's are at. Asking them to be faster in their first year than the best sorted superbikes in the WSBK series may have been a big ask. Now though, it will be interesting to see where they fare against the tamer AMA bikes.

Motogp pole last year with Lorenzo was a 1'21.202
AMA SBK pole last year with Hayes was a 1'24.480

With a similar split this year the CRT's have a good 3 to 3.5 seconds cushion to nestle themselves in between the prototypes and the superbikes of the AMA. It should be doable, as those were the differences at even some of the larger, 2 minute lap tracks. Gaps at Assen by the Aspar ARTs suggest this shouldn't be a problem, as both De Puniet and Espargaro got laps that were only 2 seconds and change slower than Pole. Any team that can't get be quicker than AMA SBK Pole around Laguna will be exposed as having a serious problem in either rider ability or motorcycle engineering fundamentals.

Food for thought:

2008 SBK pole time when the AMA bikes were a bit more modified
Matt Mladin 1'23.592 (Qualifying tires?)
Ben Spies 1'23.802 (Qualifying tires?)
2008 MotoGP Quali
Casey Stoner 1'20.700 (Qualifying tires)

I am not positive if that one by Mladin was even the lap record. I also can't recall if the AMA ran fully fledged qualifying softs back then (or if they still do). Some times to think about, and compare to what the CRTs might do.