Stoner storms to victory at Laguna Seca

Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner took victory over Jorge Lorenzo at the Red Bull US Grand Prix race at the spectacular Laguna Seca circuit, his fifth win of 2011 to further strengthen his lead in the World Championship rankings.

In front of a crowd of over 52,000 passionate fans, the MotoGP field lined up under the California sunshine for the start of the Red Bull US Grand Prix. Yamaha Factory rider Lorenzo had a great launch from pole position leading into turn one with the three Repsol Hondas tracking close behind, with Dani Pedrosa heading the trio. Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) had a strong start and followed a tight fifth behind the Hondas until he crashed exiting turn 5 on lap seven, ending the race for the Italian.

While Lorenzo led the race, behind him Stoner was picking up steam, first passing his team mate Pedrosa on lap 18 of the 32 lap race, then ticking off fast laps to reel in the race leader. The Australian caught up to the Spaniard and proceeded to pressure him for several laps, finally making his move around the outside of Lorenzo, driving out of the last corner to take the lead with six laps to go. Stoner immediately put down the hammer and pulled away, crossing the finish with a five and a half second lead to take his fifth win of the 2011 season. Local hero Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) had a poor start at his home track, fighting his way past Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) in the early laps of the race, then scrapping with Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) to end the race in fourth position, the highest placing American on home turf.

Dovizioso crossed the line in fifth place, ahead of the battle for sixth between the Ducati Team riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Hayden lost out to the Italian, crossing the line on his GP11 seven tenths behind the GP11.1 of his teammate.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was unable to improve the feeling of his bike after citing struggles with it after qualifying the day before, ending the race what is sure to be a disappointing eighth place in front of a huge following of loyal fans at the circuit. Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) finished in ninth, one place behind his qualifying position and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) met his top ten goal, finishing in tenth. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) finished eleventh, in front of Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) who is still struggling with pain from injuries, and Toni Elías (LCR Honda) in thirteenth.

Cal Crutchlow crashed out on lap three, the British rider hugely disappointed after qualifying ahead of his team mate Colin Edwards at the Texan’s home track, followed by Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who fell on lap 13, while Ben Bostrom rode off the track after missing a gear on lap six, decided not to re-enter the race and retiring the LCR Honda to the garages.