On the eve of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca at Thursday’s press conference, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies, joined by championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards, confirmed that he will be leaving the team at the end of the year, yet remained tight-lipped on his plans for 2013. This has subsequently sent so-called “silly season” into overdrive with regards to riders’ contracts, especially with Ducati Team’s Rossi considering his future options for next year.
Grand Prix racing numbers
75 – Stefan Bradl has scored 75 points from the first nine races since moving up to the MotoGP class – this is already the highest number of points scored in a single season by a German rider in MotoGP. The record was held by Alex Hofmann who scored 65 points in the 2007 season.
33 years – On race-day at the US Grand Prix it will be exactly 33 years to the day that Randy Mamola finished second at the 1979 Finnish Grand Prix at Imatra to become the youngest-ever rider to finish on the podium in the premier-class. The record of 19 years and 260 days still stands to this day.
-Jorge Lorenzo starts from pole for the second successive race. He will be aiming to become the first rider since Valentino Rossi in 2001 to win the opening two races of the year in the premier class.
-Dani Pedrosa, who starts from second place on the grid, has finished either first or second in all six appearances at Jerez in the MotoGP class. Pedrosa is making his 100th start in the MotoGP category.
-Nicky Hayden is third fastest qualifier, which is his first front row start since the Portuguese GP in 2010. This is also the first front row start for a Ducati rider since Casey Stoner was on pole at the final race of 2010 in Valencia.
-Cal Crutchlow heads the second row and will be aiming to be the first British rider to finish on the podium in the premier-class since Jeremy McWilliams was third in the 500cc race at Donington in 2000.
-Casey Stoner is fifth on the grid, which is his worst starting position since joining the Honda factory team at the beginning of last year.
-Taking the final place on the second row of the grid is Ben Spies, who has not managed to finish on his previous two MotoGP appearances at Jerez.
-Andrea Dovizioso heads the third row, making it four Yamaha riders in the top seven on the grid for the second successive race.
-Eighth-fastest qualifier Alvaro Bautista missed the Jerez race last year with injuries
sustained in the opening GP of 2011 in Qatar.
-The best of the CRT riders on the grid is Randy de Puniet in tenth, who has qualified in front of three of the Ducati riders.
-Valentino Rossi, who is thirteenth fastest qualifier, will be making his 200th start in the MotoGP class; the only two other riders to have reached this milestone are Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi.
WINNER – Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing)
“What an amazing race! I put everything I have, all my energy into the track, this victory is because I never gave up, kept pushing and trying. Casey was very strong at the beginning and opened a gap. Fortunately for us he struggled at the end and dropped his pace where I could keep mine so I managed to pass him. I am very grateful to Yamaha because they have made a big step this winter on the YZR-M1.”
1st – Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda), 1’56.474
“The track tonight wasn’t so bad, I expected the conditions to be much worse but in general it was ok. We started this evening with huge chatter issues and I was a little afraid we couldn’t fix this but after a few more exits we managed to reduce it to a more comfortable level. This is a positive point for the weekend but with such a short session and then nothing until tomorrow it’s slightly strange. It was an ok start tonight, we finished quickest which is good but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow for some real track time and with the conditions a little better and see where we are”.
Despite a negative weather forecast, the final day of the Sepang test was the only one of the three not affected by rain. Valentino Rossi stayed on the track until the last minute in order to complete as much work as possible for the Ducati engineers, who continue working on the development of the GP12. As for Nicky Hayden, despite still not being in perfect physical condition, he continued testing into the afternoon, and on his very last exit, he had a harmless low-speed fall in Turn 1.
Both riders found the new electronics that were introduced at this test to be a breakthrough, although they didn’t find the ideal setup for improving their lap times and ended the day in tenth and eleventh positions. Still, they both reduced their gap to the front considerably compared to the first test.
The next winter test is scheduled for March 23-25 at the Spanish Jerez circuit.