The Fiat Yamaha pairing of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo shared the MotoGP podium for the sixth time this season at the US Grand Prix today, finishing second and third at Laguna Seca. Rossi closed down a gap of over three seconds to eventual winner Dani Pedrosa but fell just short of making another final-corner pass, whilst a brave Lorenzo battled through the pain of his injured shoulder to rally after a poor start and finish a strong third.
Rossi dropped one place to third at the start but Lorenzo, starting from pole, slipped right back through the field to eighth after the first corner. Both riders quickly began to make up ground however, the Italian passing Casey Stoner into the corkscrew and the Spaniard overtaking three riders to cross the line in fifth first time around. It was a short lived stint in second for Rossi as Stoner passed him back into turn one on the third lap while Pedrosa began to open up a big gap at the front of the field. There was no change for several laps until Andrea Dovizioso crashed on lap seven, elevating Lorenzo to fourth and giving the youngster clear air in front just as he began to find his rhythm. On lap twelve Rossi made his decisive pass on Casey Stoner and re-took second place and he immediately set about trying to close a gap of nearly three seconds to Pedrosa.
Over the next few laps however it was Lorenzo who was the man on the move and the brave Mallorcan gradually began to move closer to Stoner until he was able to make a brilliant pass on the brakes into the final corner to move into third. With Rossi unable to make much headway into Pedrosa’s lead at that point, another Fiat Yamaha showdown began to brew as lap-by-lap Lorenzo edged closer to his team-mate. With four laps to go the 22-year-old saw his chance and tried to pass the World Champion at the final corner, but he suffered a big slide in the process and ran wide, letting Rossi back through and dropping back over a second. The drama wasn’t over yet however as on the final lap Rossi suddenly found himself within striking distance of Pedrosa and a final-corner overtake looked to be on the cards, but in the end he was just a couple of tenths too far off and crossed the line 0.344 seconds adrift, with Lorenzo 1.926 seconds behind him.
Rossi extends his lead at the top of the championship to nine points over Lorenzo, who in turn stretches the gap from Stoner to seven points. There is a now a two week break before the MotoGP paddock returns to Europe for another double-header at the Sachsenring in Germany followed by Donington in the UK.
Position: 2nd Time: +0.344
“The first half of the race was quite difficult because we weren’t at 100% today. I didn’t expect Dani to be so fast but he was very strong and there wasn’t much I could do to go with him! The last ten laps were very exciting because Lorenzo was pushing me so hard that I had to really make another step and then Dani slowed down and suddenly he was right in front of me! I thought there was a chance to pass on the final corner but unfortunately I was just too far off and it was too much of a risk. Second is good today because we were not in perfect shape here, we missed something in the setting and this is always a hard track anyway, so we have to be happy with these twenty points. We have extended the championship lead so it’s a good result for us and we have shown that we are still strong this year even when things are not perfect. This consistency is the most important thing for the championship. Now I am happy that we have some time to rest because these have been a hard two weeks and the next two races are very important because we are all so close!”
Position: 3rd Time: +1.926
“I always try to do my best and I think that is what I have done today, considering my physical condition. I am really proud and I think that this was one of my best races. My foot was okay but I had a lot of pain in my right shoulder, which meant I wasn’t strong in my right hand and I had to over-compensate with my left; I am really tired now! I want to thank the Clinica Mobile because they made it possible for me to finish the race. After a while I started to forget about the pain a bit and I just wanted to do my best and I knew that it was possible to pass Valentino. Unfortunately I hit some bumps when I braked deep and my rear tyre moved a lot and I was lucky not to crash – maybe without this mistake, if I had been able to pass him, it would have been possible to win but anyway third is good in the circumstances and we have taken good points. Now we have some time to recover; I am fit and strong so I hope that by Sachsenring I will be back to my best.”
“In the end I think we can be happy with the overall balance of this weekend because we have kept our championship lead and even gained points. Bearing in mind that we weren’t at 100% of our potential, finishing second is a very good result and this is the important thing – to do well even when we can’t attack as we would like to. Congratulations to Pedrosa, it’s good to see him back but especially to Jorge because he made a great race in difficult conditions for him. The championship is very tight and exciting now so we’re looking forward to the next races.”
“Our rider did a very good job today in his poor physical condition. He showed that he never gives up even when things are tough and that his mind is very strong, which is very important for a rider. At the end, when he caught Valentino, he made his attack very soon and maybe if he had waited a little bit things might have been different, but anyway third is a very good result in the circumstances and we have got some important championship points.”
Colin Edwards’ determined ride in his home race at Laguna Seca today achieved a personal milestone for the popular Texan, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider scoring his 100th point-scoring Grand Prix finish.
Edwards started and finished the 32-lap in seventh to become only the 14th rider in the 61-year history of world championship racing to score points in 100 races.
Slipping to ninth on the opening lap, Edwards fought his way back into seventh on lap seven and began a pursuit of a battle for fifth place involving Spaniard Toni Elias and compatriot Nicky Hayden.
Edwards, who has only failed to score points in 10 of his premier class appearances, closed to within two seconds of Elias on lap 12. But his hopes of a fourth top six finish in 2009 were ended when he ran into front-end issues during the second half of the race, staged in front of a home crowd of 46,679 fans.
Edwards is now fifth in the individual standings and his latest result ensured the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team remains firmly in contention for fourth place in the Team World Championship, the French-based team trailing Suzuki’s factory squad by just two-points after eight races.
It was a disappointing day for British rider James Toseland. Having been adjudged to have jumped the start from 15th on the grid, Toseland failed to stop for a ride through penalty within the allotted time and was subsequently black flagged and excluded from the results on lap 11.
Colin Edwards 7th – 76 points
“It’s great to score my 100th points finish in front of my home fans and doing it for Monster, Yamaha and Tech 3 who have given me great support. But I expect more than finishing seventh. I’m pretty tired now and it was a really physical race because I couldn’t get the bike to turn. Each time I threw it on its side it just went straight out to the kerb. I was using a lot of effort to get the bike to turn and it felt like the front forks were sitting between my legs. When I braked the front didn’t feel like it was coming back up. It felt like the front was buried in the ground and just pushed me out to the edge of the track. I ride over the front a lot but today it felt like I was crawling all over it, almost like I was sitting on top of the tank. It wasn’t super special and we’ve got to go back to the drawing board I think for Germany. My pace was consistent and I was doing between 22.9 or 23.1 the whole race, but that just wasn’t fast enough.”
James Toseland DNF – 39 points
“There’s not much I can say really other than it was a tough weekend. I feel like the jump start was pretty harsh. I knew it was close but I didn’t think I’d jumped the start and that early in a 32-lap race I’m not looking at my pitboard. I was just concentrating on catching the guy in front and the first thing I realised that I’d been penalised was when I saw the black flag and my number. Obviously if I’d known I’d jumped the start then I would have come in but I’ve watched the TV replay and you can’t see anything. I didn’t gain any places either so in my opinion it’s pretty harsh. It’s a setback but I’ve just got to get on with it and bounce back in Germany.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“It was a tough weekend but Colin still had a good race. He had a good pace and while it wasn’t fast enough to be on the podium he got some good points and now he’s fifth in the championship and still the top independent team rider. It was also his 100th point-scoring finish in MotoGP and I’m pleased that he has achieved that with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Team. Colin has done a fantastic job for our team and it shows what a consistent performer he has been for Yamaha. For James it was a big disappointment because although it was a difficult weekend I think a top ten finish could have been possible. It was a marginal jump start but that’s the rule, it is the same for everybody. Unfortunately he didn’t see the signal to ride through the pits, so he learned a lesson today.”We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story video