Hayden wins US GP
Nicky Hayden has won the American MotoGP round at Laguna Seca for the second year in succession, and extended his championship lead at the same time.
It was a dramatic GP, with Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen leading from pole for the first half of the race. He was unable to maintain a lead over the charging factory Honda of Hayden, but looked likely to finish on the podium until tyre wear caused his lap times to slow dramatically, eventually relegating him to fifth position.
The story of the race might have been the three way battle between Dani Pedrosa, who eventually finished second, Kenny Roberts, who finished fourth, and Casey Stoner, who eventually slid off his LCR Honda on lap 15. But it was the retirement of reigning champion Valentino Rossi which dominated the event. The Yamaha rider looked to be closing on a podium position, when he was forced to slow with what appeared to be a shredded rear tyre. And with just a couple of laps to go, he was denied even a low points position as smoke began to pour from the back of his M1.
Hayden took the victory win a confident performance after taking the lead, finishing 3.186 seconds ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who had an impressive ride through the field. Marco Melandri finished third in the race, and also moved into third in the championship behind Hayden and Pedrosa.
Britain's James Ellison finished in 13th position. In addition to Rossi and Stoner, Shinya Nakano also failed to finish after suffering what looked like a mechanical failure on his Kawasaki. Toni Elias finished in 15th, remounting after a crash, as did Alex Hofmann.
Full MotoGP results:
1 Nicky HAYDEN 45'04.867 2 Dani PEDROSA 45'08.053 3 Marco MELANDRI 45'15.796 4 Kenny ROBERTS JR 45'16.808 5 Chris VERMEULEN 45'32.306 6 John HOPKINS 45'43.687 7 Carlos CHECA 45'49.692 8 Loris CAPIROSSI 45'53.393 9 Colin EDWARDS 45'58.095 10 Sete GIBERNAU 46'11.146 11 Makoto TAMADA 46'16.808 12 Randy DE PUNIET 46'19.274 13 James ELLISON 46'24.150 14 Alex HOFMANN 46'46.144 15 Toni ELIAS 45'30.873 16 Jose Luis CARDOSO 45'38.744 DNF Valentino ROSSI. Shinya NAKANO. Casey STONER.
For more on the American round of the MotoGP series, see MCN, out July 26, 2006.